Life lessons from Little League
When I was six years old, I was infatuated with baseball. Whether it be winter or summer I wanted to play ball. However, I was six, and was not good compared to other players. The summer I turned seven, was the first year that I was able to play on a real team. Back in the 70's if you were the weakest talent player on the team, you were allowed to play one inning, and you got one at bat. You didn't get much playing time. However, you did get to practice, and if you showed improvement you got to play more innings. Being only seven, and having never played on a team, I was unbelievably scared, totally unable to hit a ball thrown by another kid. In those days there wasn't t-ball, and coach, or machine pitch, which allows kids to become familiar with a ball being thrown at them from someone other than a caring mom or dad.
My first summer of real baseball involved a lot of bench sitting and crying. While I sat and waited for my one turn at bat, cheering my team on, I worried constantly that when it was my turn, I would fail. In my head I didn't believe that I could hit the ball. That summer mostly I got up to bat, struck out, sat back down on the bench, and cried on the drive home. I would leave the game in tears because of my failures.
Yes, my folks would practice with me, and I spent hours throwing a tennis ball against a wall, then attempting to hit it back at the wall as it bounced towards me. I was actually getting fairly good at throwing with one hand, while holding a bat in my other hand, quickly getting into a batting stance after releasing the ball. However, my solo practice was not paying off in the real world.
Looking for a way to encourage me to keep trying, my parents began offering me incentives to get on base. The deal was; if I made a hit, and actually got on base, I could pick a special dinner that week. We were not what you would consider wealthy, and a special dinner such as lasagna, or steak was a huge award. After two months of this bribery, I was still unable to muster any hits. Every game went the same, strike out, bench, go home in tears.
Finally, towards the end of the season, I take my place at the plate, confident that this would be the one. This time I simply knew that I was going to get a hit. I had already decided on a lasagna dinner, with French bread and salad, and ice cream for dessert. Walking up to the plate, with all the bravado of a seven-year-old strike out king, I was focused on this amazing dinner I would get, and that's where my thoughts stayed. I don't exactly remember what pitch, but for the story’s sake, let's imagine that as I came to bat, the pitcher smiled, because he knew I was the easy out. I smiled back because I was going to be eating a lasagna dinner soon. Then in that moment he fired the ball at me. As the ball seemed to slow down in mid pitch, my bat connected and rolled towards third base. I dropped the bat and ran faster than ever before, crossing first base well before the throw. I made a base hit. My first hit. I can’t even recall the rest of the game, however, I know I looked towards my parents in the stands, they were standing and cheering enthusiastically, I gave them a monumental smile, as well as a big wave and thumbs up. It was one of those best days we tend to have a few times in our lives. An unforgettable, life altering accomplishment, and a lifetime feel-good moment.
After that game, hitting became a much easier thing for me to do. Once I knew that I could hit the ball, and I now had a personal experience of how it felt, I knew that I could hit the ball every time. I must tell you that, it was an awesome feeling, that I can still feel today. Having personally experienced what it was like to hit a ball in a game, made it easier for me at every other at bat I took. I became confident that it was no big deal, and it felt great, so I decided that I would just hit the ball from then on.
I played baseball, or softball for another 15 years or so, making my high school team and playing on elite travel teams. I feel I was an ok player. But it was my love for the game that kept me playing. It was my love for the game that kept me spending hours and hours throwing a ball against a wall, making it bounce in cockeyed ways to improve my fielding. It was also my love for the game that kept me walking up to the plate strike out after strike out. I knew I wanted that base hit more than anything in the world. I simply had to not give up, keep practicing, and never stop showing up.
Passion has a way of taking you through tough times, challenges, and the learning curve it takes to make your dreams a reality. Persistently, and passionately following your dreams, setting an intention every day to achieve those dreams, and never giving up is what it takes to be in the 1%. You must focus on your finale, never giving up, and taking positive forward action every day. That is what will set you apart from 99% of other people. Your success at overcoming negative environments, negative friends and family, and the feelings of being an imposter, or unqualified at your passion is paramount in you succeeding at anything. You simply must tune out anything that takes your mind to a scene where you fail. You must continually push those negative vibes away from your thought patterns and focus on your finale.
The other part of my success that day at bat, was that once I stopped focusing on failure, my mind was able to make my dream a reality. I was so focused on and visualizing a tantalizing lasagna dinner. I am uncertain if my eyes were even open when I got the hit. I didn’t know it then but thinking about lasagna took the fear and worries from my mind. It allowed the universe to work. I had to get out of the way of myself, allowing the universe/God to work its magic.
The Bible says it like this; ask, believe, receive. However, it doesn’t spell out the fact, that when you believe, you must also let go. You must stop seeing the negative side or potential disasters that may or may not happen. You must remove all worry and fear. Once you decide that you are going to achieve your goals, and you’ve set the intention to succeed, then you must let go. That doesn’t mean that you sit back and wait. You must take actions everyday to make your dreams come true. It simply means to make it known what you want. See it in your mind and believe that you can do it. Never stop trying, continue showing up without the fears and worries that you associate with reaching your goals. Set your intentions on success. The secret to your best life lies inside of you. Focus on your finale, become fearless in the knowledge that you are a success!