A Common Plight

Doubt Your LimitsA frequent occurrence young athlete’s encounter is when obstacles get in the way of their goals and dreams.  They fail to overcome the obstacle and experience a setback, which seemingly pushes them further from their goal.  That’s when a steady dose of self-doubt takes over their mindset crushing their spirit and confidence.

An example might be the softball player who swings at a couple bad pitches striking out her in her first plate appearance.  She heads out to center field, the bases loaded and two outs, a ball is hit to hard right at her on the ground, she charges it, but it takes a bad hop and rolls all the way to the fence.  All runners score.  She throws the ball to the cut-off, but over her head and the hitter scores on the error.  And just like that her team is losing 4-0 and she convinces herself that it’s all her fault.

During the remainder of the game not a single ball is hit to her, she walks but is stranded, pops out to short stop with the winning run on third base and despite a valiant comeback, her team loses 4-3.  She sits the bench in the second game of the double-header, but gets a chance to pinch hit in the bottom of the 7th inning only to strike out looking on a questionable call by the umpire.  Game over.  Another loss and quiet bus ride home.

After all, what if she gives it her all only to play poorly again?

A Common Reaction

The average softball player often struggles mightily with this situation.  She throws a pity party that never ends.  All she seems able to focus on are her failures and shortcomings.  Her demeanor is visibly different to her coaches, teammates and parents.  Anticipating only her next error or failed at-bat in practice, should she get another opportunity in a game it will most surely be a disaster.  As Zig Ziglar said, “She’s got Stinkin’ Thinkin’.” It’s easier for her to feel sorry for herself than to dare try and overcome the adversity.  After all, what if she gives it her all only to play poorly again?  And so there she stays mired in the mud of mediocrity.

An Uncommon Reaction

The exceptional softball player accepts her day on the field as a temporary circumstance.  She thinks to herself, “It was just a bad day.”  She reminds herself of the positive moments she’s had on the field in the past and her confidence begins to return.  She becomes determined to prove to herself that she is a valuable member of the team and will contribute to its success again.  On her mettle she steps onto the practice field with a gleam in her eyes and pep in her step and it’s obvious to her coaches and teammates that she is back!  She is completely focused on making plays and hitting the ball, which is exactly what she does.  

The bigger lesson is that this is also true in life away from the softball diamond.

The bad day has become the fading shadow of a defeated adversary.  But as in the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf said to Frodo, “Always after a defeat and a respite, the shadow takes another shape and grows again.”  "I wish it need not have happened in my time," says Frodo.  "So do I," says Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  In other words, she will be faced with more obstacles, suffer more setbacks and continue to battle with self-doubt on the softball field.  It’s inevitable.  It’s what she decides to do about it that matters.

Attitude, Effort & Focus

The three things a softball player can control are her attitude, effort and focus.  It’s easy to see in the previous examples which player is taking control of these things and which is reduced to a victim.  The bigger lesson is that this is also true in life away from the softball diamond.  How she chooses to think and act towards adversity, the effort that she makes to excel and/or to overcome obstacles and the focus she gives towards her goals and dreams will determine how her life story is written.  Muhammad Ali said, “There’s nothing wrong with getting knocked down, so long as you get right back up.”

The question she needs to ask herself even if it may sound ridiculous is, "Am I going to let myself push me around, knock me down and keep me there?"

Ultimate Example

Army Ranger Joe Kapacziewski lost his leg to a grenade in Iraq, but that hasn't stopped him. He has completed four more deployments since his injury, and now he's taking on a new challenge- triathlon. Read this incredible story on the Stars & Stripes web site.  He has also written a book about his experience titled Back in the Fight.  There's no better example of a person who has overcome adversity in their life.