What’s Worth It Doesn’t Come Easy

Four years ago, I was out of baseball completely. Three years ago, an old friend asked me to coach his son and his son’s friends. Two years ago, I checked out a space for a potential training facility.

During those last two years, I’ve slept less than clinically healthy, I’ve stressed more than I have in my entire life, I’ve lost more money than I care to admit, and I’ve been verbally dismantled by people near and far who don’t even know me.

I have a vision of where we will be in five years. But with that vision, I understand and respect that unforeseen challenges and opportunities may take me down a completely different path.

Because of this, just like everyone else, I battle with bouts of anxiety and fear of the future. Of expansion. Of helping kids achieve their goals. Of achieving my own goals.

But as I reflect on what I would tell one of my students in a similar situation – we need to let go of our anxieties and fears that handcuff us to mediocrity. We need to “embrace the suck,” learn from our failures, obsess over unrealistic goals, and work relentlessly towards them.

Preaching the words is easy – but here are some thoughts for our student-athletes that have helped me overcome my anxiety while trying to change the universe. I actually read this list every morning and continually add to it. I’ll try my best to frame it below for our student-athletes. If you have any additional thoughts – please feel free to share!

1) You are the average of the five people you are around the most.

Be around people who believe in you and will push you to reach your goals. Be around people who will empathize with your struggles and support you through your failures. Be around people who make you a better person, student, athlete, friend.

In my last few years, I’ve managed to distance myself from people that would handcuff my personal development and surround myself with people better than me – even if those people draw pictures of them ripping my head off.

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2) You will fail.

And if you commit to learning from failure – you will be better because of it.

Bad things happen and we spend more time complaining about them instead of learning from them. Years ago, I applied for a coaching job that I truly wanted. I felt I was the most qualified candidate and I thought I would have done a great job. I didn’t get it. At the time, I was devastated. But looking back now – I allowed this to bother me for too long. I held grudges instead of learning the system. In my professional life, this failure was the best thing that could have happened. As I look back on it, I didn’t know nearly as much as I do now about coaching and student-athlete growth. It took failing to get that job for me to learn; grow; and obsess with “taking over.”

Every time you strike out, make an error, lose, get benched – there is an opportunity for growth. Stop complaining about the umpire’s strike 1 call. Stop looking for others to hang your excuses on. Failure is not something to shy away from.

You will fail. Own it. Learn from it. Be better because of it.

3)Your body and mind are the average of the five things you consume the most.

If you want to be an elite athlete, you have to eat like one.

If you want to be an elite thinker, you have to read like one.

It amazes me the amount of garbage we (admittedly guilty) put in our bodies and heads. We eat food that impedes our performance and we listen to so much noise that we can’t process valuable information. Be cognizant of what you eat and the information you consume.

4) Breathe.

As a high school teacher, I bear witness to the polarizing emotions of teenagers daily. Everything is so important; everything is pointless; every coach/teacher is out to get you; every coach/teacher plays favorites; every grade matters; no grade matters; every game is so important; who cares if we win or lose… and so it goes.

Rather than jump from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other – breathe. When something goes wrong – breathe. When something goes right – breathe. Collect yourself, collect your thoughts, collect your actions. Recognize that the high’s aren’t as high and the low’s aren’t as low as they seem.

5) Compete and Obsess

In our current human landscape, everything is simply a byproduct of how hard you compete every day. In sports – winning, college recruiting, “success” – all byproducts of training everyday like an absolute lion and obsessing over unrealistic goals. There is no such thing as linear growth; rather, growth is exponential. We started the Compete Academy with 8 members. No matter how hard I worked, we stayed at 8 for while; then I learned; failed; learned some more; then we jumped to 40; then dropped to 32 until we jumped to 100 this year. We keep adding to our program; we keep competing to be the best and we are definitely obsessed. Will we see more growth – hopefully. But if we fail – we will learn from it and be better because of it.

6) “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

We are insecure beings (and because of that most of our outer confidence is a false projection). But, we don’t have to be. Be proud of who you are; respect where you come from; appreciate the opportunities you are given; and understand the fact that we are all different – yet all the same in our differences. Work really hard for your goals and take criticism as a sign you are on the right path. I have personally been attacked on all social media forums from keyboard warriors. But the attacks are not solely because of what we do at Compete; rather, they are because of the insecurities of the attackers. By projecting hate they feel better about themselves. Personally, I love it – and if you are on the path to success – you should too.

7) Greatness is a Choice

Since we are born, people attribute success with some inherent trait – a birthright for the chosen ones. Tiger Woods was born to be a transcendent golfer; Conor McGregor was born to change the fight game; Bill Gates was born to be a successful businessman. Ultimately, however, none of that is true. These people were born with a natural capacity; however, the years and years of deliberate practice put them in a position to CREATE opportunities for themselves and CAPTURE opportunities given to them.

Greatness is not bestowed; rather, it is a path we choose to take. This path is paved with opportunities that you create and capture based on your own work ethic, on your own reactions to failure, on your own ability to overcome obstacles and critics.

Nobody is born to do anything… we are simply the byproduct of our own cumulative choices, work ethic, and opportunities.

How liberating.

8) A Candle loses nothing by lighting another candle

Care less about what other’s think and care more about your own thoughts and actions. Provide value to others and you will derive value in return. Be honest, be caring, and be loyal

…to those who deserve it.

9) Be Unique.

Most believed that a 4 minute mile was impossible. Until Roger Bannister proved everyone wrong. A sub 10 in the 100 was perceived for a long time as the gold standard of Olympic runnings – until this dude came along and shattered what we believed possible:

The people who change our perceptions of possibility are those that have the strength to be different; the courage to fail; and the resolve to overcome.

10) Enjoy It.

Learn as much as possible; fail as much as possible; train as hard as possible. It goes by fast.

Comments 2

  1. Another great blog. Never get tired of these. The coaches and other players at Compete have inspired and challenged Logan so much over the past year and it has paid off. He Has improved more in this short time than at any other in the past. Just keep doing what you do Steve and there will be much success for your program!!

  2. Steve,
    Another blog of thoughts that are so spot on target. I hope your student athletes and parents of these younger players take the time to read your thoughts because they highlight just how driven, committed, dedicated you are to helping these young athletes take responsibility and find their own unique greatness. I think it says a whole lot about you and your philosophy that continue to have great relationships with players/parents of college kids who you’ve inspired in years past.
    I wish you and the entire Compete staff nothing but the best of luck in whatever direction this opportunity has in store and I feel extremely grateful to have crossed paths in my son’s baseball journey. I see how his responsibility and development has matured so much in the year he has been a part of the Academy. While I don’t know where or when my son’s baseball ends, the lessons he continues to learn while at Compete will last long beyond his baseball days are over.

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