Picture something that you had to wait a long time for – a great meal, a new season of your favorite TV show, a vacation, or finally getting acknowledged for your work by a coach, boss, or peers.
If I was to total up the amount of waiting it took for me to make it to the MLB in training and practice hours, I would have lost count two months into my junior year of high school. There was the patience and waiting for the opportunity, improving, getting stronger, failing, learning from those failures, and all those offseasons of training in hope!
There was no guarantee that my patience and waiting was going to pay off.
Similarly, athletes now find themselves in a season of waiting that will reveal how deep their desire to succeed truly is. This time is revealing and really weeding out the vocational players from the all-in players.
Let me state clearly, it is not expected that athletes under the age of 16 exhibit the same intensity and passion that older-aged athletes might have. You can learn more about the importance of balance for younger athletes in my previous post: Why Playing Multiple Sports is Crucial for Long Term Success.
However, sometimes we mistake just being active for drive. We mistake busyness for purpose. We confuse doing for work ethic. When systems are pulled out from under us (ie. practices, games, school, meetings, ect.), it reveals where we really stand.
When we wait, the things we really care about become centerstage. In the quiet, we then have to process this question: “What do I really care about?”
It has been clear that the things I value deeply are the well-being of my family financially and the well-being of my employees too. The weight and where my mind goes consistently is taking care of those entrusted to me. It has also revealed that the things I did and thought were productive just two months ago are very unimportant to me now.
That list has gotten very long.
There have been studies on the psychology of waiting in lines specifically. They reveal, in the end, that we put way more value on things that take time to get because of the hours associated with getting it – much like we always associate high prices for something to mean more value. How does this connect with our wait? We aren’t willing to wait and do the work and train if we really don’t value that thing.
Don’t feel guilty if you haven’t put the work in as an athlete or in something you thought in the past you valued. It just reveals that at this time it isn’t the most important thing to you.
Best advice I can give you or anyone is for individuals to continue to search and dabble until they find their FIT! I love this quote from David Epstein in his book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized world: “When you find your fit, it looks like grit.”
Not everyone will have my story. I fell in love with baseball at a very young age and committed myself completely to it from age 13 on. I did, however, play basketball for fun and did lots of normal kid activities. But there was no doubt my desire to be an MLB player started early. With that came work ethic and grit among others.
Do these three things after reading this:
- Write out the short list of things right now that you care about.
Things that you think about often. If the sport you are waiting to play isn’t on that list, it is ok. Give yourself grace about that. However, remind yourself regularly of the importance of being ready to get back on the field to have fun. Though baseball may not be your highest priority right now, it may be once the season opens up again.
- Create a false deadline.
Choose a day you think your sport could start back up – May 15th, June 20th, July 1st – commit to being game ready on that date.
- Create a routine you will do to pursue those things on the list.
One thing that is on my list is being a better teacher. So at least twice a week I will listen to a podcast or read a book on teaching or something connected to that. FYI, this includes parenting for me as well.
This is a very strange time in our history. I encourage all of us to have grace for ourselves and know that in the waiting things will be revealed – emotions, habits, and passions among others.
Dream Big, Serve Bigger!