Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success

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Honed or hyped?

Q: If you've ever hit a baseball or watched a game, you've probably heard of Stephen Strasburg, 21, a phenom pitching prospect who'll soon be called up by the Washington Nationals. Can success come too fast? Would you rather burst onto "center stage," with all the expectations that entails, or quietly hone your skills before your breakout moment?

Some people can hit the ground running, meeting expectations and hype and shining like the stars they are, while others seemingly with the same potential and talent give birth to a giant egg that forever brands them as "not ready" for the big time.

As a professional speaker, I'm pretty good at being thrown into an opportunity, hitting my mark and delivering. But I would prefer to hone my skills before the bright lights come on, if possible.

I was a 27-year-old Fortune 500 department head who was promoted beyond my abilities. I had done some amazing things at a regional level but was not prepared for corporate headquarters. After my first week managing employees who were all older than I was, I learned they had a nickname for me: Punk-Ass Manager!

The fact that I have done well off the cuff and have the ability to think on my feet does not fool me into believing that preparation is not crucial for success.

The minor leagues can be a good thing for some. But I also know they can lower your level of play. I played A-League softball on the best team in the league, but I was unhappy that I was not a star. So I decided to play some D-League ball (a.k.a. Beer League) and became the best player in town. Sure, everyone else was drunk ... but I was somebody!

There were a lot of female fans screaming my name, though most of them were also holding babies and smoking cigarettes. I never moved back up to A League and in the end I was a 39-year-old in C League (less beer but more minivans), playing alongside young guys who could not believe I was still pretty good. They said things like "Dude! I can't believe you, like, actually got close to that ball."

We have a tendency to rise or fall to the level of the people we surround ourselves with. We all have that loser buddy from high school or college who makes us feel successful. But if you are surrounded by a lot of people who are more successful than you are, you could be the loser buddy! I think it's better to be a loser buddy and get dragged up to achievement by winners than to be dragged down by people who play at a lower level.

In the case of Strasburg, baseball pitchers' careers are pretty up and down and often rather short. Pitchers are typically advised to go where the money is, and I can't blame them. Honing your skills is a good idea, but you never know when the opportunity for the big time will show up. We do know, however, that it often shows up only once.

By Garrison Wynn  |  May 27, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Rush to success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I heard/read his fastball has hit 107mph at times but have not seen this written since he started playing for the Nat's prep AAA team. Hype? You tell me, until I see him throw a baseball and have a major league announcer say that one just hit 107 I'm thinking at least a little hype.

Posted by: Alka-Seltzer | May 31, 2010 6:40 PM
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In the case of sports it's a young man or woman's game. More than likely, Stephen Strasburg didn't start pitching last week and may have years of hard work behind him already. It seems that because someone is young and in the spotlight that they just got lucky and most of the time they have been doing what they are noted for for a long time before their face was on the TV. Skill and talent are not the same thing and it takes both to make it happen. Sometimes the journey is short and sometimes it is long but you can bet that there is a journey behind every shining star.

Posted by: Rabbitsmoker | May 29, 2010 10:15 PM
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Those who rise to the top very quickly are bound to fall eventually with the press hounding them relentlessly waiting for them to make the wrong move whether it be a moral failure or the wrong outfit. Honing one's skills is preferable for those who want to avoid flaming out early because once a public figure is considered "damaged goods" by the media, it's difficult to get the tabloid reading public to give that person a break.

Posted by: amason2 | May 28, 2010 6:43 PM
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