Time: The Houston Astros and the Art of the Slow Play

A lot of times, when people come in for therapy or consulting, one of their first questions is: How much time is this going to take?

It’s a great question, and one that we take seriously around here. The short answer is, it depends. Part of it depends on what you want to build. Do you want a quick fix that will take away the acute pain right now, or do you want a sustainable long term solution that is built for the future?

Someone who understands this concept incredibly well is a guy named Jeff Luhnow. I first became a fan of Jeff’s while he was in charge of player development for my St. Louis Cardinals. The guy is incredible at assessing talent. He also understands that building something sustainable and durable takes time.

If you’re into sports, you’ve probably seen a picture of the June 2014 Sports Illustrated cover that predicted the Astro’s 2017 World Series Championship. How in the world did they make such a crazy and accurate prediction?

Well, part of the answer is Jeff Luhnow. When he took control of the Astros, one of the first things he did was establish expectations. They were terrible. And he told them that he wanted to build something great, but that it was going to take time. He was promising that they were not going to win the world series in 2014. Or 2015. Or 2016. They weren’t going to run out and find a quick fix to the problems that ailed them. They weren’t going to sign big-time free agents. Instead, they were going to build something durable and sustainable. And that takes time.

As I saw pictures of the SI cover and heard the stories behind it this week, I was reminded of how a similar process often takes place in therapy. Oftentimes, people come in for a quick fix. Don’t get me wrong – quick fixes, just like big budget free agent signings, can sometimes be great and exactly what we need. However, if we want to develop sustainable long-term solutions to our deepest personal or organizational needs, it is probably going to take more than just one or two sessions.

So, at the end of the day, which do you want to be? Do you want to be a one hit wonder (I’m looking at you, 1997 Florida Marlins), or a well-run unit set up for a decade of dominance?


Eric McClerren, LAPC emcclerren@growcounseling.com

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