If you follow me on Twitter, it’s no surprise that I am a HUGE baseball fan. The Toronto Blue Jays are my team, and despite their current record, I still watch as many games as I can. With 162 games each regular season, it’s no small feat, but I use much of this time to design new products for my Etsy shop which by now doesn’t involve a lot of brainpower. Multitasking for the win!
Being a total personal growth junkie, I’ve noticed myriad ways in which baseball mirrors life, and aspects of the game that can lend insight into how we can make our lives more fulfilling.
Here are 3 of the best life lessons from baseball.
Draft your roster
Over the years, I’ve learned that who you surround yourself with should be deliberate, and not by default. In other words, draft your team. Choose who you spend time with, give your energy to, and share yourself with.
The right people
The first part of drafting your team is selecting the right people based on who they are and the impact they have on your life. I’m not talking about only surrounding yourself with people who help you or who are there for you – I’m suggesting you look for people who you admire, who bring you inspiration and support.
This includes people who lift you up but also give you the tough love when you need it. People who share at least some of your core values. And people who make you your best self and inspire you to be even better.
The right mix
The second part of drafting your team involves building a diversified roster. A team of 25 pitchers or 50% first basemen wouldn’t make a successful group, and the same applies to your life. The people you surround yourself with should ideally bring different things to the table in terms of personality, strengths, life experience, perspective, the things you like to do together, and the qualities they bring out in you, to name a few.
This by no means has to be a ruthless, calculated process that involves cutting off friendships at the knees and reaching out to people disingenuously to befriend. It’s about being more conscious of who is on your team, identifying “gaps” in the roster and seeking out a rich and diverse support system.
If I reflect on my roster, for example, I have a few key groups of friends and support:
- Entrepreneur friends with whom I can share ideas with, celebrate successes, commiserate about setbacks, and work through business issues.
- Girlfriends with whom I can speak to with virtually no judgment, talk about challenges, fears, and dreams, and troubleshoot social questions.
- My Dad who, as a writer, editor and strategic thinker gives me valuable and candid feedback on blog posts, my book, and blogging strategies. As a Dad, he also gives me the tough love I sometimes need. And when I’m conflicted, has an amazing ability to bring me back to identifying what’s most important.
This is just a cross-section, but it paints a picture of how a roster could look.
Lastly, while it should go without saying, you should also be seeking out ways to serve the members of your roster and make the most positive impact on those around you.
Adapt to the environment
To truly succeed in baseball and in life, you have to be able to adapt to different environments. You may not have noticed, but other team sports surround the use of a playing field with the same dimensions (the same sized football field, hockey rink, etc.). Baseball, however, is the only team sport in which the playing field has a different dimension in nearly all of the 30 big league parks.
Now, layer on to that different weather conditions, grass types, and open versus closed roofs. You have yourself a diverse and ever-changing environment. In baseball, you won’t be successful if you’re only able to pitch well in open air parks or if you can only hit at one given stadium. Life is no different.
Baseball teaches us to get outside our home park and learn to play the game elsewhere.
How can you put this into practice? Get outside your comfort zone. My post How to Deal With Doubt When Leaving Your Comfort Zone speaks about this in more detail.
Afraid of speaking in public and never chime in at team meetings? Challenge yourself to ask a question or make a comment. My post Why it Really Pays to be a Curious Person offers some inspiration.
Not athletic but eager to play a team sport? Sign up for an intramural volleyball team with a friend.
Worried that pursuing a goal of yours will make you look silly to your family who just doesn’t get it? Start exploring it to see if it’s something you’d really enjoy.
In other words, step into the unknown park and play a little. Yes, the field may be shaped differently and the terrain may be rougher. But you’ll learn how to succeed with that new shape and on that new terrain. These things will only make you stronger and more effective through life’s challenges.
Recognize that it’s not a race
There is no clock or time limit in baseball; just a set number of innings to be played in each game. In other words, each game involves the completion of innings.
How liberating would it be if more of us recognized that life’s not a race? Instead, it’s about the substance – completing a goal or accomplishing a task, for example. There’s no stopwatch, clock, or buzzer. Just substance.
So the next time you catch a baseball game while channel surfing, pause and watch for even a few minutes. You may be surprised at what you learn.