Ever hear of TED? I've watched many videos over the years from the "Ideas Worth Spreading" website. While some are either not of interest to me or not aligned with my views, others are quite interesting and often inspirational. I came across one by Richard St. John, "Success is a Continuous Journey," which made me think of softball (of course). People talk about how kids can learn life lessons from sports. This TED Talk provides a way for kids to learn softball lessons from life, whether one is climbing the company ladder or pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations.
To be the best a player can be, she must work for it. Nobody can force a player to put the work in to get better. It must come from within the athlete without anybody telling her to do so. While she should take mental/physical breaks from the game (a couple days to a couple weeks), she must continue working or her game will decline.
A player has to learn to focus on the task at hand, whether it be mechanics on ground balls, hitting or pitching, she must concentrate on developing her skills. Softball is not a game of multi-tasking. When a player is hitting, she cannot be thinking about not dipping her shoulders or the error she just made in the field. She must also learn to block out the noise and distractions. If she cannot focus, her game will suffer.
A player must learn to push herself when she's not feeling 100%. While she may not be her best, she needs to find ways to overcome the symptoms to be the best she can be on that particular day. On the other hand, she cannot coast either. She must push herself in her workouts. For example, to get stronger by doing a couple more reps, working on hitting a location with a certain pitch or hitting the ball to the opposite field. She can't just go through the motions (coast) or her skills will decline. "If you're not getting better, you're getting worse."
A player must come up with ways to break up the monotony of her workouts, tweak her routines and other aspects of the game. Taking 100 swings off the tee just for the sake of completing a workout is a waste. Maybe she could make a game out of it by seeing how many balls she can hit properly in a row, while going from down the middle, high/inside, waist/inside, low/inside, low/outside, waist/outside and high/outside. The same goes for hitting her pitching locations, good throws, incorporating new exercises into her strength/conditioning, eating habits, mental routines, etc. New ideas are necessary to find what makes her the best she can be. If she doesn't try new things, her game could stagnate or decline.
A player must never settle for where they're at right now. Once she stops trying to improve not only her weaknesses, but what she's strong at, she can't get better and risks being passed by others. She must come up with ideas, focus, work and push herself to improve.
A player must serve her role on her team, whatever it may be. Maybe she's a first year 16u player who will be a sub or backup. She may be a starter and expected to be a leader on the team. When a spectator or college coach can look at a player and not know whether she is a starter, sub, having the best or worst game of her life, that's when a player is serving her role. Softball is a team sport. Player's serve their coaches and teammates, or they cannot be the best team player they can be.
A player may not allow themselves to be defined by their failures or inabilities to perfect a part of their game. Softball is a game of imperfection, where player's can fail more than succeed. A player must be persistent in all of the above points of the Wheel of Success. If she is not, she will be passed by others who are.
When a player has passion for the game, she can persevere to be the best she can be. It is normal for players to compare themselves to others. A passionate player can overcome feelings of inadequacy or envy. They understand that their best may not be better than somebody else's. They feel extreme satisfaction knowing that they are giving it their all, which allows their passion to persist. A player who loses her passion will see her game quickly deteriorate.
A player who wants to enjoy continued success must never lose sight of what got them there. Success in softball and life is a continuous journey, not a destination. A player who learns to appreciate the journey will be able to maintain their passion. And that is one of the keys to happiness and contentment in life. A player who learns these lessons from softball now, can apply them not only to their careers or entrepreneurial dreams, but to their hobbies, health and/or philanthropic endeavors for the rest of their lives.
Please check out Richard St. John's website for more insights and inspiration. The above graphic is from Richard St. John's Success is a Continuous Journey video.