Where is Tim Lincecum? In what has turned into an Area 51 fiasco of sorts, the Kansas City Royals recently stumbled upon his “secret” workout location and were promptly asked to leave. But why is a three-time World Series Champion and two-time Cy Young Award winner working out in secrecy instead with a ball club?
When Lincecum was at his best, he was arguably the most dominant pitcher of the 2000s. The man they call “The Freak” led the National League in strikeouts for three consecutive seasons, tossed two no-hitters and has been to four All-Star games. The only other person to win multiple World Series titles, Cy-Young Awards, attend multiple All-Star games and throw multiple no-hitters is Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.
Beyond the accomplishments, Lincecum has always carried an excellent work ethic that has allowed him to exceed expectations his entire life. At 5’11” and 170 pounds, he is hardly ideal size for a pitcher in the MLB. However, he taught himself how to overcome his size limitations through a unique throwing motion that no other pitcher uses.
Learning to throw this way took years of practice and unique training methods.
In one such unique method, Lincecum’s dad would put a dollar bill far out in front of the mound and have him try to reach it on his follow through. Not only did this drill force him to maximize the use of his body in his delivery, but it also in a sense was a metaphor for his entire career, as he was constantly reaching beyond where people thought he could go (and making a lot of dollars along the way).
Lincecum was also the ultimate teammate in San Francisco. In the 2012 postseason, as the highest paid player on the Giants roster, he accepted a role in the bullpen instead of in the starting rotation. He took what many would consider a demotion in stride, and had a 2.27 ERA in 16.5 innings of work helping the Giants win the World Series.
So why can’t “Big Time Timmy James” find employment?
As resumes go, he has tangible accomplishments, demonstrated work ethic, creativity and is a team player. In the recruiting world that’s our version of the GOAT. Unfortunately for Lincecum, time is working against him. He has been on a statistical decline for the last three seasons and has also seen the velocity on his fastball drop.
How Does Lincecum’s story apply to you?
Many jobseekers can relate to Lincecum. Especially in areas of technology and sales, the skills needed to keep up with the job can change on a dime. One day you’re the best at your job and the next day you’re skills are irrelevant.
A decline in skills can be a tough obstacle to overcome. There is basically the choice to adapt or die and that’s it. Those willing to change have the chance to regain the edge that made them great.
So where can you begin to make your skills relevant?
It all begins with reinventing yourself. In Lincecum’s case he needs to embrace the fact he can no longer blow his fastball past hitters. He needs to rely on his control and his ability to keep hitters off balance by changing the speeds of his pitches. Pitchers like Jared Weaver and Roy Halladay were able to perfect this art and it effectively extended their careers.
If there is a pitcher who is capable of reinventing himself, it’s Lincecum. He has already figured out how to overcome his size limitations. All that time and effort used to confront that problem can be used to solve his current problem.
For a jobseeker, reinventing is a very similar process. It is first realizing that something no longer works and finding a solution that overcomes it. This can mean changing a process you’ve done for 20 years, or learning a new technology that has become industry standard.
In both Lincecum’s and a jobseekers case, it will be hard work to reinvent. However, the hard work shouldn’t be a foreign concept. Lincecum invented and worked meticulously on a delivery that allowed a scrawny kid to be a dominant pitcher. Using that kind of creative mindset when confronting obstacles is a tool that can overcome any lack of skills you may have.
Is reinventing yourself enough to regain a position that’s in a similar role?
Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. If reinventing yourself is not enough, it might be time to accept a new role.
In Lincecum’s case there are some teams that view him as a relief pitcher and not a starting pitcher. Like any competitive athlete, Lincecum still believes he can pitch as a starter. However, if the only offers he receives are to be a relief pitcher, what should he do?
This is a question many job seekers come across as the process stretches on. At what point should you accept a position that isn’t necessarily the same role you are used to? The only way to answer that question is to ask yourself what is important to you. Is it important that you regain what is familiar or are you willing to embrace a new challenge?
Both Lincecum and jobseekers need to be able to realistically evaluate their job market, strengths, weaknesses and what opportunities put them in the best position to succeed. There is no right or wrong answer when deciding to accept a new role. What matters is that you are willing to accept the responsibilities and new challenges that come with it.
There is no doubt that Lincecum is currently a job seeker in an uncertain market. Is he willing to reinvent himself and accept a new role? Time will tell if Lincecum does either, but now is the time to start asking that question if you are a jobseeker.