Acceptance

A very good friend of mine has a nephew with exceptional talent in this sport, as a first baseman. The youngster also swings decent lumber and can place it at will. I went to a few of his games last summer and was impressed with overall ability, temperament and maturity - especially for a fourteen year old.

Recently, I got a call and was asked to talk to the youngster about his lack of enthusiasm for playing high school baseball this year. “It just wasn’t like him”, I was told.

So, out of friendship and an invitation to a roast beef dinner, I found that the objection to playing, or trying to play, high school baseball was rooted in few things that are very common to that environment and the way most youngsters perceive themselves. As best I can, I’d like to pass on that conversation and perhaps it will have some benefit to those that are in the same situation.
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There are things in this world that you can not control. Things that will go your way, and things that will not.

When events are in your favor, it’s not unusual to figure that it’s something about your ability or that people just like you that’s done the trick. Other times, friends or friends of friends helped along the way - and that’s cool too! And then there’s dad, mom or even relatives can step in and give that little push on your behalf and your on your way. All in all, life’s good.

When events don’t go your way - that’s a different story. When this happens, and it’s cut and dry that you’ve been outclassed by better talent, there’s not much to think about. It’s obvious to you, and anyone else for that matter, that … well, that’s that.

When events don’t go your way - as a preconceived notion that so-n-so is a shoe-in, or that someone else is going to make the team just because of who they are and who they know, that just doesn’t seem fair … and it’s not. And you have every right to feel that way.

However, I’d like you to consider two things:
(1) Your personal assessment of yourself
(2) Your time and place in this life - now and in the future.

i Your personal assessment of yourself[/i] naturally compares your skills to those around you. Teenagers are always testing these waters and that’s a good thing. It’s also a measure of your pecking order among your friends, class standing, and how you perceive yourself in the world.
It’s that last one … how you perceive yourself in the world … that has more to do with your understanding of who and what you are … than anything else. If you’re a go-getter, a hard worker, reasonably able to pitch-in and do your part, cooperative and fair with yourself and those around you … your personal assessment of yourself should be giving yourself high marks, along with a vote of confidence that really doesn’t need the acceptance of others to validate.
that really doesn’t need the acceptance of others to validate … Ah, there’s a sticking point that just doesn’t wash … easy to say, but hard to tell yourself and believe. When your growing up you need the validation from coaches, friends, teachers, clergy, cop on the corner … anybody … to acknowledge that your doing a good job … somewhere along line. And when it comes to something that you really want to be a part of … it’s a big deal. When you don’t get that acknowledgment, and you know you got it coming … by either getting a pat on the back for an outstanding job … or … being accepted onto a team … but you don’t … it hurts. No, it hurts a lot. How come? It hurts because growing up needs a helping hand from time to time that says your growing up and going in the right direction based on what you’re doing thus far.

Take your baseball skills for example - your baseball ability should be recognized by others because YOU recognize it … again … in comparison to others. When things don’t go that way, and it’s obvious that something is out of wack … it’s not fair … it’s just not the way it works … it’s just not fair to what you expect.

Here’s were the hard part comes in. When this happens you’ve got to look deep inside you, give yourself a true lookover and ask yourself a fair and honest question … am I that good? If the answer in your honest opinion … not pride … not selfishness… but honestly asking and answering the question … is YES… I am that good, then you’ve got nothing to look back on. You’ve satisfied the biggest hurtle that any young man/women has to overcome while growing up.

In essence, it’s your inner self that has to be convinced, your inner thought process, your heart, your gut feel … every fiber in your body that says who you are. When you have that kind of confidence … and for the right reasons … regardless of who says what… the only team that you have to live with is the team that’s in your heart. You’ll overcome anything in this life with a sense of reasoning, honest assessment, and a perspective that has no equal.

i Your time and place in this life - now and in the future[/i].
Take what I said … You’ll overcome anything in this life with a sense of reasoning, honest assessment, and a perspective that has no equal. This stuff will travel with you regardless where you go and what your station is in life.

But hey, that’s in the future … how about now?

It’s totally natural for young people to expect things to happen now, right now, same time tomorrow if not sooner. The most difficult part of growing up is to convince a youngster that there is a word that has some kind of meaning and purpose … and that word is patience. Sure, you have what it takes to make a team, any team … but right now someone is calling the shots that doesn’t see it that way. On the other hand … that doesn’t mean that this same person will be calling the shots for the rest of your life … or for a spot with another club that you’ll want to try out for. Giving yourself time to progress into the future, getting better, getting stronger, showing different people your abilities. What plays in Brooklyn doesn’t necessarily play in Kansas. ( I know that’s lame, but just go with it for now … hey, I’m old.)

Now I wouldn’t totally honest here if I didn’t admit to all this doesn’t necessarily have a Cinderella ending for everybody. There are situations where availability and proximity does put you at a disadvantage. Money, were you live, who you know, your family’s situation, etc., etc., does inject a ton of variables. And hearing … “ well other people have made it with less” … just doesn’t go down very well … I know. But we all do what we can with what we got - good or bad, it’s how we deal with the … good and bad… that shapes us.

Regardless, you’re going to wake up every morning and greet that same guy/gal in the mirror. So it’s only fair to took back at yourself and say …” let’s do the best we can… see ya … same time tomorrow.”

Coach B.

Thank you so much for this post Coach B.

I have been in that phase right now where I’ve been depressed, mad at the world and myself, thank you for this wonderful reminder, I take it to heart and Coach (no offense to anyone else) I believe you to be the most valuable member to this site as your contributions always entertain, inform and inspire. Great work.

In another thread I talked about baseball skills transferring over to become life skills. You’ve broken one aspect of that down beautifully here.

The conversation above reminded me of why I didn’t play baseball in high school and how I eventually fell away from playing for years. I couldn’t seem to muster that confidence.

Things have sure changed now. However, I missed the boat a little bit. I discovered that yes, I indeed am capable of being that good only problem is it took me till my early twenties to figure it out.

As humans, we’re so much happier and stable when our expectations jive with reality. So, I can still have fun playing the game I love so dearly without having any delusions of grandeur. In other words, instead of looking back on what I could’ve done, I’m just going to do the best I can now. If it means just having fun, great. If it means doing something more, double great. I have no expectations of doing anything other than having fun getting people out.

There is still boat loads of beauty and knowledge in the game for me to behold without reaching those higher levels we strive so hard for in our younger years. And who knows, maybe I can coach eventually…

Satchel Paige once put it very succinctly: “You have to believe in yourself. When you believe, you do.” That’s the whole point—believing in yourself, having confidence in yourself and in what you have and can do, and refusing to be intiimidated. 8)

Like my Brother Friend says, “When you step across them white lines, you say to yourself, I am the best player on this field, and What mode are you in?” he asks me, and I say “BEAST MODE”