I heard a baseball commentator tonight say, "If you're going to pitch a batter inside, then you better be sure you don't hit him." Pitching someone inside is risky business. If done successfully, a pitcher can really throw a batter's timing off and increase the likelihood of earning a strike out. Done unsuccessfully, however, and the pitcher can seriously injure a batter and, in turn, incur the wrath of the opposing team.
Aren't many of the risks we take in life like this? If we succeed, then we'll be on top of the world. If we fail, though, we'll end up in the pit. But that's the thing about risk...it's risky. And since most of us are not clairvoyant, we don't ultimately know what the outcome will be. Do I take that new job in Idaho? I'll make more money and have an opportunity for more promotions in the future, but if the job doesn't go well, I might be fired and then my family and I will be all the way out west. Or what about that new car? If I buy it, then I'll have a reliable mode of transportation, but the car payments could be too much for me to handle and then it might be repossessed and that'll hurt my credit score. We face these kinds of unknowns every day!
Of course, there are risk-takers and risk-avoiders in this world--folks who pitch inside and folks who don't. But, in most cases, it's the risk-takers who make a real difference and leave enduring legacies in the world. Madison Bumgarner and Justin Verlander are great pitchers with high strike out rates because they are not afraid to pitch inside. They are both on Hall-of-Fame trajectories because they take risk. They are smart and calculated in their craft, but they are also willing to climb cautiously out on the limb and play dangerously once in a while. In our lives--both personally and professionally--we've got to do this once in a while as well. Sure, safety is comfortable, but risk can be growth-producing and appropriately disruptive to our lives. So, look at where you're playing it safe and see if there is any room for risk. Then, if there is, try something new--pitch inside a little. Maybe you'll sit your opponent down and pad your record book!