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photo credit: Nick Jio @nocholasjio – unsplash
Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day to day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life. – Ernie Harwell
We all know that life is not easy and many of us were not given the rules growing up. Many of us go through life hitting and missing. Sometimes we make it to first base or even a home run and other times we just keep striking out. Sometimes we think we are doing ok and life is good, but then a curveball gets thrown at us that we didn’t see coming and we think “Wow, where did that come from?”
So much of life is our perspective on things and circumstances; it’s how we see things through our personal lenses. Our lenses may be dusty and need some cleaning. We may think that others have it good, but we are living in a funk. When we look in the mirror, who do we see? Do we see someone who is positive, and moving forward or are we saddened or angry at what we see? Maybe we wonder what life is all about and what our purpose really is here.
Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is. – Bob Feller
The following analogy is inspired by a leadership talk given by leadership speaker Jerry Harteig.
The Game of Baseball
There is an order to baseball. The pitcher throws the ball and the batter needs to try to hit the ball outfield so that he can get to first base and second, third and finally, home base. What the hitter doesn’t do is run to 3rd base and back to 2nd or 1st base. The objective is to take each base in order. So how is life like baseball?
First Base = The Foundation: who we are, our character
Second Base = Our Relationships: Family, friends, community
Third Base = Our Career, our professional and academic spheres
Home Base = Our purpose
In life, who we are, our character, our values, our priorities make up our foundation. We win from within. Everything we do spreads out from who we are and what we believe and value. Character is the foundation and nothing will ever rise higher than our character in life. In baseball, although the players may play over a hundred games in a season, they spend far more time preparing and training than they do playing the game. Some players, unfortunately, take short cuts (or think they are taking short cuts), but really there are no short cuts in life.
We can not get to second base or do very well there if we have not prepared first base well. If second base is relationships, then the health of our relationship is dependant on the strength of our character. We always need to play by the rules – be honest and trustworthy. Before we can influence others in a positive way, we must first be able to lead ourselves. A person’s character can look like a sinkhole – you can’t see the underneath, the limestone, instability of the soil. the one day, out of the blue, a sinkhole opens up because the foundation wasn’t solid.
We need relationships, we depend on them, but we can’t go about things backward. Some people put all their energy and focus into their work or other activities and then realize later that they had neglected second base: relationships. The game of baseball is clear: we go to second base before third base. We should develop and prioritize relationships over outside endeavors, over careers and business. It is much better to follow the correct order than to have to go back and do damage control.
Some may say that they have no idea how to build and maintain relationships in any sphere because they never learned how or because their past was so disastrous or traumatic. This may be true, but the past is the past and this is now. We are responsible for what we do now. None of us is perfect and we all have emotional scars. But we can learn new information and begin new ways of relating. All relationships are built on trust and truth so, we can start there. Two rules we can follow are:
- Value others more than ourselves
- Forgive what we can’t forget
Third base in life is all about what we do when we are out in the world. It is the application of our character, values, and beliefs in professional, academic or social settings. Who are we at work or at school? Do our actions line up with who we say we are? Do we have integrity? Do we do what we say we will do? Are we dependable? Can our employers, colleagues, and customers count on us to deliver? Are we honest? Are we a team player? Do we build up, rather than tear down? All of these questions speak to our competence or performance.
Whatever we do in our lives will be reflected in our performance. It will be reflected in how people view us and in the rewards or promotions we receive. Any cracks in character, like cracks in cement, will be exposed eventually. So how can we do well at third base?
- Do more than is expected every day. If you do the minimum, you will get the minimum.
- Do something every day to add value or expand your skills
- Seek solutions rather than fixate on the problems
- Learn new skills
- Fail and learn to love it
- Don’t sit on today’s successes; tomorrow is a new day
- Bring your talent to the table
Other Rules in Baseball: The Lines
In baseball, there are boundary lines such as the foul lines. These are clearly delineated and going out of bounds brings a penalty. In life, we have the opportunity to draw the lines because we have the pencil. But the question is, who is influencing the lines? Are the lines influenced by the media, by our society, by our schools and other educational institutions, or by whom we spend our time around? Who is holding the pencil?
Of course, there are some solid lines that we follow, like laws, for instance. And other lines are dotted lines, like lines we draw for ourselves, but not for others. But the lines we draw are boundary lines to keep us in and other things out. Stepping outside these foul lines bring consequences for us and often others. So if we are going to play the game of life (or baseball), we need to have foul lines and respect them in order to increase our chances of winning.
If you have the right mental attitude, nothing can stop you from achieving your baseball goals. – Felicity Luckey
In baseball, the goal is to get as many players to home base as possible. that is the destination and the reason for the game. Likewise, in life, we need a goal or a reason. Otherwise, we are just going through each day randomly, hoping each day will be a good day. But what are we working toward? What is the impact we would like to have? What is the reason for all of our activity? Having a bigger purpose than just getting through life should be the reason and the goal. When we have a clear idea of our purpose or what we are trying to accomplish, then we can line up all our activity with this vision.
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Diana Lynne enjoys traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-frre life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca