Life Lessons Learned from Playing Baseball
From the playground to Yankee stadium, I've learned many of life's most important lessons while playing baseball. After I retired from pro ball I realized the many similarities with baseball I was dealing with in the 'real world' and the keys to being happy, successful, a good business partner or spouse, and enjoying life. I've also profoundly learned life is better than a baseball game. In baseball, 3 strikes and you're out. In life you can just keep swinging! You are your own umpire! Keep swinging at your pitch it doesn't matter. Go for your dream, ask for the job, get the date, go for that business opportunity. Ask yourself, 'What if it Works!'
Eliminate negative thoughts. What if what you're trying to accomplish works out! and if it doesn't, - so what. -Welcome to my world. Just keep swinging for the stars! Change your mindset! There's no failure, it's just a learning experience. Hope you can utilize a few of these nuggets I've collected and still use today.
1. Be Humble
I learned early in baseball to be confident, but never get full of yourself, life has a way of catching up to you. If you're doing well, let others speak for you. If someone pays you a compliment, appreciate it and simply say thank you. I remember my 1st day in the minor leagues. I'm thinking ‘no sweat’ I’m the best player in my area. I walked into the Kansas City Royals rookie locker room after just being drafted as an outfielder out of college and realized all 20 guys in the room were also the best in their town! and next to me was the Royals #1 pick an 18 yr. old 6’3 190lb. high school outfielder! -Clint Hurdle. My attitude was adjusted instantly! - Be humble, be quiet, and fly below the radar. Keep your values and work hard. There’s always someone bigger, better, smarter, and luckier than you – so what.
2. Don’t worry about things you can’t control
Minor league players are always wondering if they’re going to be called up to the next level, or if they’re being released today. They get upset if they're doing well, and someone else starts before them, or gets moved up. Many times in life you have no control over the decisions that are being made about you, or why. So you didn't make the team, get the job, or the promotion. Just work hard, believe in yourself and be ready when your opportunity comes. An old sage once told me, 'Don’t worry if its’ going to rain today. Just live your life, have fun, and do your best, and if it’s cloudy, -Carry an umbrella!'
3. Be patient, go through the process and master the basics
My coaches would say I always tried to win the race too soon. Slow down, they'd say "1st you have to crawl before you learn to walk, and walk before you run. After you learn how to run, then you win the race!” Have a good foundation, master the basics, the fundamentals.
-like the Karate kid! "Wax on, Wax off"
4. Learn to overcome adversity
This is a big one, especially today. Baseball is a game of failure, a .300 hitter in baseball is succeeding 3/10 times. He’s failing 70% of the time. At -65% he's going to the Hall of Fame. Think about that. You aren’t going to succeed 100% of the time in baseball or in life. But you must be able to bounce back when you fail, when you're faced with adversity, or hit a roadblock. Perfectionism is a mentally unhealthy illusion. Look at all the people today on meds or in therapy stressing out to be perfect at work, school, or sports, or unable to handle rejection, adversity, or the negativism on social media. How you react to failure and adversity are a major part of success in life. Learn from failure, reframe all failure as a positive learning experience for you to do better next time.
5. Focus, keep your eye on the ball
Imagine you're playing away from home, on the road, people are yelling and cursing at you trying to distract you. You're trying to get a couple of hits, while also competing with your own teammates for survival. Pressure? a little. You have a goal of what you're trying to accomplish. Learn to focus, drown out the noise, you don't see or hear anything but the pitcher and the ball. Focus. Keep your eye on your prize. Take deep breaths, talk to yourself, and visualize a positive outcome. Keep at it until it becomes a part of you. Keep your eye on your goal in anything you're trying to accomplish in life. What is your major objective, stay positive have confidence and don't allow anyone or anything to distract you.
6. Believe in yourself
I've written on perseverance, and self confidence. Your mindset and how you see yourself is important to your success. When you're in a slump, tired and just want to go home you can't give up. Just keep moving forward. You can have 3 strikeouts in a game, and your 4th at bat have a game winning hit. No one will remember your 3 strikeouts. Same thing in life, if you're messing up, believe in yourself, have faith, believe you'll do better next time. Keep working hard, and no one will remember what you did wrong. They'll remember the good things you did right.
7. You can't play baseball or the game of life alone, teams win championships
Make it a habit to make friends with people from different backgrounds everywhere you go. I'm from New York City, and I've made friends on a farm in Waterloo Iowa, fishing in Fairbanks Alaska, eating steaks in Omaha, and KC, and dancing in Australia, Korea, & Latin America. Learn from everyone. You become a more complete and understanding person.
Its' also good to know when you make an error on the field or mess up in life that you have friends supporting you. Just as you will pick them up when they make mistakes. And we all make mistakes. Besides, its' a lot more fun when you can share your collective successes with others, remembering where we came from, the adversity we conquered, and how far we've come as a team, co-workers, business partners, friends.
8. Enjoy the ride you never know when it's going to end
I had my cup of coffee in the big leagues and I enjoyed every minute. Don't wait for tomorrow, it might not come. Be grateful for what you've been given, and who you are now.
Enjoy what you are doing, and where you are right now. The journey is most of the fun.
You now have some basics; I'll add more in the future. I hope these insights help you as an individual, or as a parent in developing your kids on the field but more importantly, in life. Have fun. Go big or go home, and "Always Swing for the Stars"
-See you soon Danny Garcia