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Call your home runs
#managing_yourself I know it's not polite, but I am suggesting you brag - a little
In the American sport of baseball, a player scores a home run when they hit the ball in such a way that the batter circles the bases and reach home safely in one play without the opposing team committing any errors in the process. Typically, this happens when the player sends the ball over the outfield fence without touching the ground, which results in an automatic home run.
Major league athletes hit thousands of home runs every year, and as the years have gone on, these numbers have tended to climb. However, ask any person what is the famous home run they know of, or even heard of, and most people will invariably refer to Babe Ruth's called shot.
In the fifth inning of game 3 in the 1932 World Series, Babe Ruth points to the stands and hits a home run on the next pitch. The called shot was not a series ending scoring event, nor was it even a game-winner. It occurred in a game so long ago that none of my readers can claim they remember this. There is some debate as to whether or not Babe Ruth intended to call the shot. As a result, this home run is the most analyzed home run ever. Links analyzing the home run fill the web, and people write entire books about the event.
I don't know all of the reasons behind the fascination, but I think part of it is the audacity of saying you will do something ambitious and then delivering on it after the fact and not the other way around.
Even if you're just starting in your career, you've probably accomplished things at work that make you proud. The uncomfortable question you have to ask yourself is, does anyone else remember? Humility is a virtue, and calling your home runs doesn't seem like a humble thing to do. However, your career is ultimately defined not by what you did, but what people recall you doing (even if you didn't intend to do it as some claim in Babe Ruth's case). Peer reviews and reference calls over some time forge your professional reputation in a crucible. What do your colleagues say about you when it's time for your performance review or when employers call them for a reference?
If you want your work to be remembered, start picking off those ambitious goals and start calling them.
The first step in getting started with this approach is to get comfortable with it. In the many years since Babe Ruth's called shot, a few baseball players have tried calling their shot, and many have failed. The great news is that people tend to forget those moments. Just like a psychic who gets lucky once in a while for predicting a doomsday event, you'll get credit when you're right, and people will forget your bad calls. Just don't be too reckless with your called shots, because otherwise you'll be seen as someone full of hot air. In practice, I find that if your hit rate is better than 50/50, your work will appear intentional (i.e., better than random), and that's great in the increasingly chaotic world of business.