This is the first installment of a nine part series of things I've learned over the years about life whiling playing, coaching, watching or umpiring baseball.
Principle One: Losers Make Excuses, Winners Make Changes
I'll never forget the time I was umpiring at third base in a league championship game. A young man, who was a phenomenal talent but also had an erratic attitude, had just struck swinging way in front of change up that absolutely fooled him.
He was mad because he felt my partner at the plate had cost him the at bat with a strike call that the batter felt was inside.
His coach’s words were priceless. The coach looked at him and said, "Yeah, I know the ump made you swing at the one that was above your head too? I imagine he made you miss that change up too?" The coach never even got into the foul tip that should have been crushed.
So many times batters blame the umpire for a bad at bat instead of looking at their own performance. Yes, umpires miss calls.
And to be honest, when I asked my partner about it between innings he told me it may have been inside, but the coach was right, there were three other chances that young man had to get a hit and he didn't. It's all about whether you take responsibility for yourself or not.
It's the same way in life, how many people make choices that are far from wise and just blame it on someone else. They blame it on their dad, or mom, the teacher "that didn't like them" or the fact that they grew up poor. It's silly really.
In every at bat there is at least one pitch you can hit and in life there is always a choice between what is wise and what isn't.
Yes, bad things happen to people. Really bad things, but what a person does with those bad things is what matters. We all make bad choices.
Sooner or later we all strike out or give up the monster bomb in the bottom of the ninth, but what are we going to do with the next at bat, or the next hitter we face? To be successful at baseball and at life our focus needs to be on the next opportunity.
The fundamental problem with putting the blame on things that happen to us is that it takes the opportunity to change and adapt away from us. If we blame someone else for our own lot in life, because it was something that was done to us, there's nothing we can do to change it.
No doubt, things happen, you get beaned when batting, umpires blow a call, but only you control what you do.
One of things I constantly tell my athletes when I'm coaching is, "We don't control the weather, the size or condition of the field we're playing on, the other team, or the officials. What we do control is ourselves. This truth is fundamental to all of life."
In a society that is constantly bombarding us with the lie that our self view has to come from a "everybody gets on base, everybody gets a trophy because we're all winners," point of view where failing is paramount to certain disaster, it is imperative to admit that we all strike out at some point. We all give up a home run sooner or later.
The difference in winners and losers is what one does at that moment. In baseball like life, there are those who win and those who lose. Often the difference in the long run, is perspective.
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