Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Baseball & Life -- Part 1 -- NO EXCUSES

This is part 1 of a 9 part series on baseball and life. These principles have been around for some time in various forms and formats. This will be my presentation and perspective on them. I love the game of baseball and I think that it can teach us well. It is no mistake that the series starts with this principle. It is not only something that is quite lacking in today's world, it is foundational to building upon and being successful in other areas of life:


Do not blame teammates, umpires, coaches, fans, or the position of the sun in the sky for your performance. Take responsibility for what happens on the field. Be a stand up individual, make no excuses, and refuse to use the excuses that others might offer you. Excuses get in the way of learning because mistakes are denied. Be accountable. Remember that you are not expected to be a perfect performer. No one is. Baseball is not and easy game to play.

One of my favorite things to remind my teams as I coach is that in baseball the very best professional hitters FAIL 6 or 7 times out of every 10 times to bat. Baseball is a hard game; life is hard to win at as well. The best way to become successful is not to avoid going to the plate. It is to be as prepared as possible, go out and give it your best effort, accept and make no excuses about the results, and to review and learn from each trip to the plate (even the ones where you hit it out of the park). Every time there is a play in the field you should review and ask if you were in the right position, moved to the right position, gave full effort, and what could make it better next time. Don't beat yourself up when the ball takes a bad hop but do not fail to learn for the next ball.

Winners take ownership of all of their decisions and actions; good or bad, not matter the result or consequences. Our inability to do that robs us of learning and make us appear like poor sports. This is however, not a new phenomenon. Just three chapters into the Bible, we see it come into play...

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
-- Genesis 3:6-13

The decision is ours. Will we stand up and be responsible or make excuses about all of the situations of life. It is not hard to look around and find "reasons" why we fail in our finances, love, school, weight, job, salary, you can add to the list. Whatever the situation, remember that where you are now is the result of all the decisions and actions that you have made to this point. Don't like where you are? Take responsibility, make the needed changes, and move forward.

When the baseball season gets started in a few short weeks watch the players closely. See which ones make excuses for the bad call, bad hop, bad timing, or bad coaches decision. Note also how successful these players are in the long run. Next up... PLAY WITH HONOR.

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