Baseball Magazine

Positive Deviance

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Positive deviance

Cows are boring.  A purple cow
gets noticed.  What are you
doing to get noticed?

One of my favorite topics to teach in my sociology classes is the concept of positive deviance.  Most people think of deviance in the negative sense but deviance has enormous value to individuals and our society.  Deviance simply means "different from the norm." Negative behaviors are certainly part of deviance but it involves a whole lot more.  Learning about positive deviance can be very instructive to any baseball player looking to go from good to great.  The desire to be unique and not follow the crowd might bring you some criticism but the rewards are usually high in the long run.  Ask any person who is "great" in their field and I bet they didn't act like everyone else on their journey to the top.   They probably dealt with a lot of criticism too.  They took a risk no one else took.  They worked longer than everyone else did on a project.  In effect, they were deviant.
Positive deviance
A favorite book of mine is The Purple Cow by Seth Godin.  In the book, Godin states that "very good" is the new "average."  Basically, good isn't good enough any more.  "Good" is now boring.  To stand out, you have to be "remarkable."  Remarkable is Apple Computers.  Remarkable is Chocolate By The Bald Man.
One big way a player or coach can apply the Purple Cow to baseball is to ...
Practice differently.  
Most teams/players practice the same way, at the same time, using the same type of drills.  Most teams also don't come in first place.  Most baseball players don't play beyond high school.  They have to be better in every area.  The amount of time spent practicing.  Their thought process during workouts.  Their focus.  Their attention to detail in everything they do.  Their drive to get better everyday.  It all has to be better than everyone.  Practicing like other teams/players will result in you being like most everyone else ... average.  Average is fine as long as that's what you're shooting for.
If you want to be the best, you can't act like everyone else.

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