Click here to subscribe in iTunes; or, listen to the audio version below:


My friend invited me to his Super Bowl party last Sunday. One of the pre-game festivities – besides eating waaaay too many chips – was watching a baseball documentary about knuckleball pitchers.

I was particularly fascinated by the story of Tim Wakefield – not because he was a legendary knuckleballer, but because that was apparently the last thing he wanted to be.

His original goal – or what his thought was his goal (more on that in a moment) – was to be a first baseman. And by all accounts he was very good. The problem was, to make it in the majors, you have to be very great. So Tim was about to be shown the door.

That’s when he made a realization that saved his career. He didn’t really want to be a first baseman. That was just a means to an end. His REAL goal was to be a major league baseball player. And if playing first base wasn’t going to get him there, he was going to find another way.

So he switched from playing first base to pitching the knuckleball. As a result, he enjoyed a 17 year career with the Boston Red Sox.

What does this have to do with marketing your business?

As a marketing consultant, I sometimes work with business owners who become stuck stubbornly trying to make a particular strategy work, while losing sight of – or in some cases, even forgetting – their real goal.

I call this “Getting stuck in the ‘how'”.

For example, I worked with a client a few years ago – Judy (not her real name) – who was trying to expand her client base by networking at business meetings and conferences. She had taken a couple of expensive networking skills courses and even worked privately with a networking guru. Yet, she wasn’t getting any results.

During our first coaching session, it was clear that she was more determined than ever to make this “networking thing” work for her. After all, she had so much time and money invested in the strategy, she was damned if was going to give up.

I asked her, “What’s your real goal here? To become a good networker? Or to find a way of attracting clients that works well for you?”

She quickly realized that she had lost sight of her ultimate goal. She was stuck in the “how”. Networking wasn’t working for her, so she needed to drop that and find another “how” that will work.

We explored a number of other marketing strategies for her business. Eventually, after a couple of false starts, she found a methodology for attracting clients that is working VERY well for her today.

Are there areas in your business where you’re stuck in the “how”? If so, take a page out of Tim Wakefield’s playbook. Remind yourself what your real goal is. Then be willing to try a different “how” to achieve it.

Oh, and one more suggestion: Never eat a bowl of chips before a steak dinner. Trust me on that one!