I believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and I don’t think that it’s just a mere coincidence that I was introduced to baseball at such a young age. Looking back, everything that I learned from baseball has allowed me to progress to where I’m currently at in life. For example, with me being a business owner, it would have been very tough for me to understand the importance of failing and how to accept it if it wasn’t for years of failing in baseball. Of all sports that I chose to play, it had to be the one that was most mentally exhausting, takes the most skill, and something you don’t succeed in without putting in a ton of hard work. The life lessons that I learned from baseball played a very important role in shaping the person I am today, and that’s why I want to take some time to talk about those lessons.
Failing. You hear me talk about this all the time, but failure is a necessity for success. Life is never perfect, and the more you fail and learn how to accept it and get beyond it, the more success you will have. I’m going to share a few stories about my failure in baseball because believe me, there were many. First, understand that baseball is literally a failure sport. What do I mean by that? A great player will fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate, something that can be mentally draining if it was with anything else. If you can’t accept succeeding only 30% of the time, then you will never be a great player. Instead, you will be an average or below average player. While in my teens, I couldn’t accept failure. In fact, I absolutely despised it. If I would strike out, it was the worst feeling in the world, and I just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that it was going to happen, whether I wanted it to or not. For years and years I was an average or below average player, and things didn’t change for me until I read “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz, where I learned that failure was a good thing, just as long as I made the necessary adjustments to move forward. Before, if I would strike out my first at bat, it would affect everything that I did for the rest of the day because I couldn’t accept failure, and literally feared it, but when I learned how to accept that I was in fact going to strike out, instead of going 0 for 3 for the remainder or the game, I might go 2 for 3 or even 3 for 3, making it a 3 for 4 day. That was the point where I was able to take my game to a new level, earning top honors my junior and senior years in college. Accepting failure is a key to success.
Hard work. I’m going to be honest here, and I wasn’t the most athletic player on the field, but the reason I was one of the best was because I worked harder than everyone else. When I was very young, maybe 12 or 13, my parents decided to get me involved with batting lessons. Yeah, that was a great step forward because I was getting proper training, but changes don’t occur unless you practice outside of the training, and that’s something my father pretty much forced me to do. I was too young and naive to understand the importance of hard work at the time, but my father sure didn’t. After a batting lesson, he would make me go down in my basement and hit hundreds and hundreds of balls off the tee, practicing what I learned during the lesson that day. In all honesty, I hated it, and complained and complained, but wasn’t going to go against what my father said, so I did it. After time, I noticed that my hitting began improving, and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, it was because I was hitting all of those balls off the tee every night. At that point, I started enjoying hitting off the tee because I was seeing results. So at a very young age I began to understand the importance of working harder than everyone else in order to be better than everyone else, and that just transferred over to everything else I’ve done in life, and is why I was able to win Top Beachbody Coach 2010 out of over 50,000 coaches.
Before I move on, there is another story that I would like to share. Like I said in the above paragraph, I used to get batting lessons all the time, and I’ll never forget this one time in particular where I was at a hitting camp with quite a few other players. I was probably around 14 or 15, and we were all sitting in a circle listening to the instructor talk when suddenly, he said, “Raise your hand if you think that you can come up here and hit 50 balls off of the tee without hitting the tee once.” Off all 30-40 kids or so sitting there, there was one kid who raised their hand. Do you know who it was? Yeah, it was me, and it was pretty funny because here I am, raising my hand, looking all around and noticing that nobody else was raising theirs, and thinking “oh crap!” The instructor got this puzzled look on his face, probably because he wasn’t expecting anyone to raise their hand, and said to me, “OK son, come up here and prove it.” I hopped right up, maybe a little nervous because I now had a LOT to prove, but was able to hit 50 balls straight without hitting the tee. The instructor was impressed, but then asked me to hit 50 more balls off the tee, but this time to close my eyes. Huh? OK, this time I was a little more nervous, but closed my eyes and hit 50 balls without hitting the tee, all because of the muscle memory from hitting countless balls off the tee every single night for years. Right then, the instructor knew that I was a work horse, and then had me do something that was completely outside my comfort zone and something I’ve never done before, and that’s hit left handed. To my surprise it felt pretty natural, and he then told me he was going to turn me into a left handed hitter. He knew the benefits of hitting left handed, and he knew that I would go back and practice and practice until I got to the point where I could hit left handed all the time, and he was right. That’s exactly what I did. By the time my junior and senior years in college rolled around, I was hitting left handed the entire time.
Leadership. My senior year I was team captain, and looking back, there are many things that I did wrong as a so called leader, but because of that, I was able to emerge as the leader I am today. Life is about learning, making adjustments, and moving forward. Even though I was team captain, I was timid and very afraid to speak what I thought and felt. I remember a few times where I would voice my opinion, but as soon as someone said something back to me going against what I was saying, I backed down. I tried to act like a leader, but acting and doing are two completely separate things. Was I leading by example? In some ways. I was able to improve many aspects of my game, such as patience and my temper, and that helped me be an alright leader by example, but now looking back, I feel like I was less than half of the leader I should have been. Leadership to me now is about leading 100% by example, showing people what they need to do to become successful, being completely passionate, speaking with believe and power, and not backing down in the face of adversity or struggle. I wish that I could go back in time and be the leader that the team deserved. Maybe I’m being a little tough on myself, but there is no comparison to the leader I am now compared to the leader I used to be.
For 17 years, baseball was my life, and I’m so blessed and fortunate to have been able to learn the many lessons that baseball has been able to teach me. Because of baseball, I don’t fear failure, and have learned how to accept it; have learned how to become an effective leader; and was able to understand the importance of a strong work ethic. Because of baseball, and the way my parents have raised me of course, I have become the man I am today. So whenever I hear about someone talking about quitting a sport, especially baseball, I always encourage them to stick with it because they have no idea how much it will help them progress in life.