Professional athletes often thank God after they or their team perform exceptionally well. More often than not there is an evangelical Christian tilt to their message and to any subsequent advice they may give about how to have a spiritually fulfilling life.
Shawn Green has taken a different approach and uses his memoir, The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH (Simon & Schuster, 206 pp., $24.00) to show how by meditating and following the principles of Zen Buddhism he became more grounded.
Think of it as a cross between Ted Williams’ My Turn At Bat and Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Though most of the examples he uses are drawn from his 15-year career in Major League Baseball, he discusses them in a way that makes his approach to problem solving easily transferrable to other areas of life.
Green, who is Jewish but not particularly observant, tells of how he solved an early-career difficulty with his approach to hitting by abandoning his practice of over analyzing the situation.
“Those four summer months in ’97 of swinging in stillness [and using a batting tee] created the necessary space and emptiness of mind for the solution to just come to me,” he writes. He argues that meditation is “about shifting one’s awareness out of thought by focusing attention on something else.”
For credit union executives, does that mean that if an NCUA examiner is questioning your institution’s lending practices you should get out of your chair, sit on the floor and start to meditate?
However, Green’s advice to try to step away from the situation and find a fresh way to look at it might help deal with some of the thorniest issues that business leaders have to deal with.
Green contends that this approach allows you to lose your ego and observe yourself from a distance. He admits that too often he dwelled on the past and focused on the future, while failing to make the most of the present, all the while thinking that the more success he enjoyed the better his life would be.
“Happiness is not a mere byproduct of success and acquisition,” he writes.