by David DeFord
As a lanky ten-year-old I enjoyed the Little League game of a lifetime against our rival team, Stonemill. Having singled in my first at bat, I approached the plate in the third inning with the bases loaded. I always feared facing Stonemill pitcher Randy Nikirk. His fastballs came so fast I almost had to decide whether or not to swing before the ball even left his hand. The explosion of Randy’s pitches slamming against the catcher’s mitt sounded grenade-like. This day, I swallowed my fear and concentrated on the instruction my manager, Tiny Spinks, had given me. He encouraged me to synchronize the power of my whole body into my swing. He said to focus my legs, my upper body, and my arms and shoulders at the on-rushing baseball. He told me to swing easy, and let bat meet ball.
Randy hurled a high fastball over the plate and I swung smoothly, concentrating my whole body as instructed. I will never forget the sound and feel when my bat met the speeding ball. The ball soared in a high arc and disappeared over the left-center field fence. I couldn’t believe I had homered. I hardly knew how to trot around the bases, even though I had practiced my homerun trot hundreds of times.
When I reached my teammates in our dugout, Tiny asked me if I had swung hard, or if I had concentrated my whole body into my swing. He said trying to “kill it” only increases strike outs. He wisely reinforced the concept for me and my team.
Only four players in our league hit homers that year. I felt as if I were in an elite club. Outfielders began to back up when I came to bat. Pitchers bore down when they faced me. I enjoyed the new respect.
You would expect me to have turned my hitting around on that day. But I didn’t really learn the lesson. I just swung the bat more fiercely, using only my arms. I had tasted real baseball success, and then I started trying too hard to repeat it, failing to synchronize my energy into my swing.
I never hit another homer.
As I look at my life I realize that the lesson Tiny Spinks tried to teach me extends beyond the white lines of the baseball diamond. I’ve learned that I can’t succeed using my charm alone. Nor can I advance only on hard work, or on desire, or on judgment, or on personality. In order for me to succeed, I must synchronize all of my abilities into my efforts.
I’ve learned that when faced with a challenge I do much better if I don’t strain at the problem, and don’t fight the challenge unnaturally. I overcome my challenges best when I naturally apply my combined strengths toward my goals. Poise during struggle will move me farther than adrenaline-induced frenzied activity. Trying to “kill it”, only makes me strike out more often.
This truth has also become clear: the faster the pitch the farther the ball will fly when we solidly connect. The more difficult the challenge is, the greater the reward for meeting it squarely.
When you find yourself facing a life challenge, synchronize your strengths toward the resolution. Balanced, concentrated, and poised effort will bring the reward.
You can knock one over the fence.
When on the brink of complete discouragement, success is discerning that . . . the line between failure and success is so fine that often a single extra effort is all that is needed to bring victory out of defeat. Elbert Hubbard
Nothing focuses the mind better than the constant sight of a competitor who wants to wipe you off the map. Wayne Calloway
Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. Anthony Robbins
Courage means to keep working a relationship, to continue seeking solutions to difficult problems, and to stay focused during stressful periods. Denis Waitley
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