As a youngster, I was obsessed with baseball. I read and memorized the box scores every day and collected baseball cards with my friend. I also played Little League baseball. I was an average fielder, but when it came to hitting, I was to put it bluntly – awful. That’s because I was in fear. I was afraid of getting hit by the ball. So, when the pitcher reared back to throw, I’d tend to back away from the plate.
One game in my little league “career” stands out in my memory. I stepped up to the plate to face one of the best pitchers in the league. This kid threw really hard. He fired a fastball and I swung. By some miracle, I hit the ball and sent a long line drive between the center fielder and left fielder. I was stunned, never having heard that sound come from my bat before. So, I began to race around the bases, chugging as fast as I could (I wasn’t fast either). The ball rolled so far that there was no way the outfielder could retrieve it in time. I could have crawled around the bases and made it home safely.
After I crossed home plate my teammates jumped all over me. They were amazed by my slugging ability. I was elated until, out of the corner of me eye, I saw the catcher from the opposing team walking toward our dugout. He had the ball in his hand and he tagged me.
The home plate umpire yelled, “You’re out! You missed home plate.” I was stunned and embarrassed. My home run was taken away from me. Then, adding insult to injury, the first base umpire said, “He missed first base too.” At least, I touched two of the four bases.
How did this happen? Why did I have so much trouble running the bases and finishing my home run? Over the years as I have reflected, my problem was that I didn’t expect to hit the ball. So, when I did, I wasn’t prepared.
When your expectations are low, it’s hard to take advantage of “the opportunities” that come your way. Here are two specific suggestions that I learned to help make the most of your opportunities.
- Adjust Your Attitude – When I stepped up to the plate in those Little League games, I had a terrible attitude. I kept telling myself, “I’m not a good hitter,” and “I’ll never hit the ball very far.” This became a self-fulfilling prophecy and, as a result, I rarely hit the ball. When I did hit the ball into the outfield that day, I was stunned and ran around the bases like a chicken without a head. Low expectations lead to disappointing results. Are there any areas of your life where you’re giving yourself negative messages right now? If so, it’s important to change your attitude immediately. Otherwise, your performance will remain at a low level.
- Be Prepared – A positive attitude, by itself, won’t guarantee that you make the most of your opportunities. The next crucial step is preparation. Because I didn’t expect to hit the ball, I didn’t study the technique for running the bases. Had I practiced navigating the bases, I would have been more successful when I actually hit the ball. Unfortunately, most people start to prepare when it’s too late.
The bottom line is this: when you combine a great attitude with thorough preparation, you’re sure to hit many home runs (and touch all the bases)!
Until next time, Leaders Develop Daily Not in a Day!