If you truly love something and want to be as good as you possibly can, it is going to take preparation and discipline to reach that ultimate goal. Maybe it isn’t cool anymore to dedicate your life to something that you love. Maybe it’s because you don’t want to commit just in case you fail? Maybe it’s because not everyone does it? Or maybe because it is a lot of time and effort and it is hard. Whatever the reason might be, know that these values don’t just help you with the sport you are practice or the major you are studying, these values will help you with so much more in your life. The hours and hard work put into taking ground balls or working a reaction ball in the front yard of my parents’ house will not only help me become a better infielder, but it has helped me with focusing that hard work now into other things that I want to become. “Lazy” is a hard label to shake off. “Undisciplined” is a really hard label to get rid of. Those are two bad words for a baseball player, but they aren’t any better in any other job.
Over the years, it has been so cool to have the privilege to meet and work with so many great people. The amount of help I have had during my playing career and my brief coaching career has been amazing. I look at the days of playing high school baseball as so far away, but I remember the people that were so consumed with helping me the best I could possibly be. I remember the coaches encouraging me and telling me to work harder so I could be the best I could possibly be. They set the foundation for me to consistently work harder than the next guy. I think their positive reinforcement and discipline made me not only the player I turned out to be but also the person I have become.
Early on in high school, I learned that preparation and discipline gave me confidence. This may sound like a no brainer, but it is actually pretty tough to maintain. A 16 year old athlete has an 0-4 day at the plate, and he’s expected to just not worry about that bad game. That takes maturity and discipline to do. It is tough for high school players, college players, and professional athletes to maintain that discipline to continue to prepare the same way every single day whether playing poorly or kicking ass. Baseball is such an emotional sport, and it is hard not to celebrate a great game or sulk over a bad performance. It takes insane amount of discipline to just go about your business the same way every single day and continue to focus on the preparation.
It takes constant trial and error to find what kind of preparation works for each individual, but at some point, you have to commit to something. I hear it over and over again from great baseball players that they were able to sustain such great careers because of their routine and their discipline to that routine. Why is it so hard to get athletes to understand that concept? Because it is extremely difficult to do. There are so many others things human beings want to do now. We want to stimulate ourselves in so many other aspects of life. Maybe we don’t want to completely consume ourselves with preparing to be the best baseball players possible because what if it doesn’t work out? What if we don’t become the player we want to become?
Practicing preparation just might help you to become a more successful person in other aspects of your life and future. Setting a routine as a 17 year old shortstop that you consistently perform day in and day out with the end goal of being a professional baseball player isn’t just about reaching that goal. It could help you to become something else that you never thought you could be. Having the discipline to prepare the same way every single day and tinker with your prep as you mature is so powerful. I was able to dedicate myself to baseball at a young age because I had so much desire to become the best baseball player possible. I enjoyed the preparation and the discipline that came with it. I knew it was making me better, but I didn’t know it was making me a better dude once the career came to an end. I didn’t know it would make me a better coach, co-worker, son, brother, uncle, friend, etc. It is easy to look at all the hard work and emotion you put into something you care so much about and then not reach that ultimate goal as a total failure, but you must have the discipline to understand that that helped you to also become something else. All that sacrifice and emotion helped you to become a better man, women, friend, salesman, dad, mom, coach, etc. Learning and understanding the values of preparation is not something that 20 year old college baseball players want to listen to every day, but the ones that do will flourish on and off the field.
Just know that the hours logged, the trial and error of finding the best daily format, the discipline to stick to a plan despite failure, and being less cool because of working hard to attain a goal—it all will pay off. Whether it be what you want now or what you will want in the future, being disciplined to sticking with your preparation will eventually pay off in something. I admire people today who are so disciplined to their routine because it is so hard and it is so easy to break routine when shit hits the fan. It is those people who stick to routine no matter success or failure who are the people that I admire and want to be like. When you learn to love the process and love the preparation, you will find that no matter success or failure, you will be perfectly content with whatever comes next.