Major League Baseball players have a long season, playing 162 games from March to September, hoping to make it to the playoffs and extend their season through October. You watch them play game after game, nine innings (or more), the same thing every day – pitch, swing, field, catch. It’s work.
Then, halfway through, we get the All-Star Game.
Right in middle of the baseball season. Right in middle of the normal person’s calendar year.
The All-Star Game is a chance for the best players in the league to be recognized, sure. But what I got from the game this past week was a reminder to have fun with it, whatever it is for you.
I’m slightly infatuated (or obsessed) with MLB players, so when Fox aired commercials featuring monologues and photo/video montages of the various All-Star players, I melted in happiness before molding baseball’s hidden messages into lessons worth writing about, as I tend to do.
All of the commercials ended the same way – “I just wanna play.”
It’s why the players show up all season. The All-Star Game is a reminder of the fun of it.
The game is planted strategically in the midpoint of the season as a way for the players to mix things up, take a break, be around other people who are on their level. Play, learn and be around the best.
And come back refreshed for the second half of the season, when every game counts.
Baseball, once again, brings us a classic lesson that applies to work, life, and all of the creative projects we throw ourselves into: plan a midpoint break.
Author Daniel Pink goes into depth on the importance of midpoint breaks in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. From daily midpoints like actually taking a lunch break to a mid-year vacation to the 7th-inning stretch, midpoints are an opportunity to relax, reset, connect with our intention, and power on through to the end.
“In the middle, we relax our standards, perhaps because others relax their assessments.”
In the All-Star Game, everyone is relaxed. The announcers even mic’d up Freddie Freeman as he went to bat, and we heard him joke with the pitcher in the action. They mic’d the MVP contenders Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich while they were playing in the outfield, capturing their candid reactions to each swing of the bat and engaging them in conversation. Players’ standards are relaxed because everyone’s assessments are relaxed; no one really cares who wins the All-Star Game. It’s more about the play, less about the work for this week of the year.
“Elite performers have something in common: They’re really good at taking breaks.”
How can you revive yourself to thrive in the second half? Whether it’s a lunchtime ritual that reminds you to take work easy or a mid-year retreat to get you out of your element, I hope you find ways to remind yourself why you’re in it in the first place. Take a break and play, then come back and play harder.