BASEBALL IS A METAPHOR FOR LIFE: An Open Letter To All Athletes
If you're reading this, that means that you are most likely a baseball player. Your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, great uncle Steve etc. most likely received this email on your behalf and shared it with you because you are currently snap chatting your friends or hanging out with your girlfriend and rarely check your emails (if you even have an email address). But they shared this with you because they felt it was relative to the current state you are in or feelings you are experiencing amidst this pandemic. And let's be honest, despite what you may think or tell your friends, our innate selves know that mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and even great uncle Steve always know best!
Right now, you may not be able to see the implicit messages and valuable life lessons that baseball has taught you to help you through this tough time. You may not be able to see that the decisions you make today will have an impact on the decisions you will or will not be able to make in the future. This is all okay.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you when this game will end for you, but here is what I can tell you.
It wasn't long ago that I was in your shoes (and I am not talking about rocking the same Yeezy's that you rock) I'm talking about looking at life from the very same lens you are right now, feeling anxious and unsure of yourself. But in baseball and in life, you don't know what you don't know until you know it. And I may be a little bit older than you and you may think I have it all figured out, but in truth, the only difference between me and you is time and perspective. Other than that, we are both connected on the same cellular level as humans and we both experience that "fall" from time to time. And when we fall, we are both constantly searching for meaning trying to uncover the answers to help us continue on and overcome that fall. But is it the answers we find that will help us overcome adversity? or rather the questions we start asking ourselves and the self exploration journey we take in search for those answers?
You know that feeling you get when you give up a bomb and it fly's out of the park before you can even turn around or comprehend what just happened!? That feeling of complete SUCK. Well that happens a lot in life as you get older & have more responsibilities. But do you also remember how 1 inning later you got back up on that bump and struck out the side? That feeling of complete SAVAGENESS. That also happens a lot in life!
Baseball is really really hard guys. More failures than successes. Some euphoric moments but not many. A lot of really good days, but mostly challenging ones. Life as an adult is no different. But again, the good news is that if you're reading this and have made it this far in the game of baseball, you can make it just as far or further in life!
Yes, your season was cancelled and you have been left with so many uncertainties. And yes as a result, many of you are experiencing anxiety, depression, self identity issues etc. This is real. Very real. This is also confusing and hard to grasp. Right now, you are in the "Thick of it" and I am sorry you are hurting. But always remember that the easiest person to fool will always be yourself and I am here to tell you that if you have already made it this far, that means your'e a ball player. And if you're a ball player you have already started the process of overcoming these anxieties & hardships. How do I know this? well because if you haven't, you wouldn't be a ball player and you wouldn't be reading this.
I hung up my spikes years ago, but to this day, the game of baseball still washes away from my soul the dust of everyday life. And that's not to say that my choice to continue to pursue a career in baseball once my time was done playing is an excuse to never grow up (even though my wife may tell you differently) but rather because this game that we have loved since we were little kids has taught us how to fail over and over again and in return has also taught us to get back up and continue to ride the non-linearity wave of life.
When the time comes and you have to hang up your spikes, and that time will eventually come for all, you will be able to see this all very clearly and be extremely proud for having been able to call yourself a ball player. You will be very grateful for all the principles this game has instilled in you in preparation for life - and trust me, life is hard sometimes and you will need your own set of first principles.
The game of baseball will also teach you the art of simplicity. And simplicity enriches the soul. And our soul allows us to feel that our inner child is still alive! And that inner child will help you stare down future obstacles in the face and overcome because as children, we were all born to evolve, adapt and shine.
Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to educate, influence & facilitate training programs for thousands of athletes ranging from high schoolers all the way up the ladder to big leaguers. That part of my career is cool, fun and certainly rewarding but that's not where I find my everyday purpose. Purpose for me derives from the relationships I get to develop with ball players like yourself. Relationships that go well beyond the field and/or training floor. And I find purpose in these relationships knowing that I may be able to influence and help guide an athlete like yourself back to life when life kicks you in the balls and you're struggling to get back up.
Guys, I am no guru. But I know that each of us are an entire world, and sometimes worlds collide. And when that happens, for a mere instant, you can peak through somebody else's inner beauty. It's is a rare moment in life, but one that I have been fortunate to experience several times as a coach. And that is Why I do what I do.
So for all of you athletes who are struggling right now without baseball - rather than push your anxieties to the side and ignore them, call them out! challenge the shit out of them - no different than how you would challenge that hitter who steps into the box thinking he's hot because the last time he faced you, he hit a ball off the end of the bat and the wind happened to carry it over the fence =). Have a competition with your anxieties. Compete against yourself. The best part about this is you’re a ball player so this should be easy for you.
Transcend your limits. Talk to yourself daily. Stop listening to what everyone else thinks is best for you and start doing what you know is best for you. And never forget that you are a ball player. And ball players are powerful beyond measure and capable of anything.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Stay Humble!
Here is a Daily Discipline Exercise that has helped me overcome anxiety over the years, I hope it helps you too!
How would you know if you were getting better or your velo was increasing without a radar gun and without weekly tracking? You wouldn’t. You need to measure to manage.
Having dealt with and currently still dealing with anxiety on a daily basis, this is something that I created and started years ago. It has personally helped me better manage my anxiety over the years and it may help you get moving in the right direction as well.
Grab a notebook & every morning when you wake up, put the date on top of a new page. On one side write “YOUR NAME” & on the other write “ANXIETIES”.
At the end of the day, put a tally mark under “YOUR NAME” for all the times that day, you did something that your anxieties said “nope can’t do that” but you did it any way. I’m talking small victories like going to walk the dog, or waking up early or taking the trash out etc.
At the end of the week tally up how many days you won and how many days your anxieties won. And trust me, just like in baseball, no matter how good or prepared you are, you’re not going to win every game or have a good outing every time on the bump. Anxiety will win some days and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t need to overcome this all at once.
Daily incremental gains are a huge focus for me that has allowed me to achieve my career aspirations, sift through the weeds, become a loving father/husband and find true bliss in life. I hope this helps you!