Baseball Opening Day… Who Starts the Wave?

It’s time for hot dogs, fresh cut grass and the sound of the ball on the bat. Opening Day is finally here, baseball fans! And as a Texas Rangers fan, the sting still lingers from last year’s World Series. We were one strike away from winning… twice. Yes, twice. Thankfully, there is always next year and now it’s finally here.

The best part is the wave. It begins with one fan, then a few more, and finally an entire section enthusiastically jumps to their feet. After many failed starts, the wave eventually travels all around the park. An entire stadium of people working together to make it happen.

The wave is a perfect metaphor for how change really gets started in our organizations, careers and life. It starts with the decision to step out and take action that ultimately brings big things and maybe even bring thousands of fans to their feet.

If one word stands out to me on how the wave of change really happens, it’s persistence. I love how a few people keep trying and trying. There are groans when it stalls three sections away, and they start again. And, finally they get more followers and it takes off. Yet it never works the first time and usually not the second or the third.

Persistence is the secret difference maker in careers and leading a big change. This is the often unnoticed quality that keeps the student applying to dental school after multiple rejections, the entrepreneur who is told ‘no’ repeatedly and keeps at it or the author who has a story to tell, but can’t convince anyone else.

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected 12 times before a small British publisher finally gave her a chance. Persistence.

We can learn some things about persistence and accomplishing goals from our fellow wave starters:

  • Once isn’t enough. Remember that anything big rarely happens on the first try.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. Stay focused on reaching your big goal, not on how many times it takes.
  • Persistence doesn’t have to be a solo sport. Keeping others involved and on board can help you stay motivated and increase your chances for success.
  • Progress matters. Note the small steps of progress.  Getting your section going is big–you have to do that first, before you get to the entire stadium.
  • Keep your enthusiasm. Show enthusiasm even when you are on your fourth try. You won’t get others to go with you if you aren’t committed and positive, no matter how many times you have done it before.

As you put on your favorite baseball jersey and head to the ballpark for Opening Day, remember to help another fan out and be part of the wave. Or, better yet, be the one to get it started. And remember, the fifth time is the charm.


Patti Johnson is a career and workplace expert and the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human resources consulting firm she founded in 2004. Previously, she was a senior executive at Accenture and has been recently featured as an expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, Money Magazine and Working Mother. Patti is also an instructor for SMU Executive Education and a keynote speaker on “Leading Change.” Her first book, Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work & in Life, hit shelves in May 2014. Visit her website at

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