This post was originally published on March 17, 2015 and was updated on February 11, 2020.
Several years ago, I wrote a post about one of my very favorite subjects. It was kind of a twist on getting yourself prepared for your life and career, but looking at it from an unusual view: comparing the parallels to your being a success in life to that of being a success in baseball!
As we here in the Northeast pine for warmer temps and bluer skies, we know that spring is just around the corner and that soon the flowers will return and getting out in the sunshine will be an everyday affair again. Whenever my mind thinks spring, it can’t help but drift to what it always does this time each year… baseball.
As I dwell on it just a bit more, I am reminded how baseball is just like our lives. Ok, I’m not saying it’s as important or as critical as your life (I had to write that line to keep peace with my wife and those of you who aren’t baseball fans, you uncivilized #@$%#’s), but baseball has a cycle that follows the patterns of your very own life. Have you ever considered that? Here’s my take on the paths that you’re following which you probably never thought of in terms quite like this.
Birth / The Baseball Draft
Each year lots of babies are born and one day that baby was you. Your proud parents fussed and cuddled their newborn and even compared you to all the other babies they saw. Well, it’s the same in the world of baseball as the proud teams pick out their new (born) players from the many that are out there and sign them up for what they hope will be a happy, healthy, and prosperous future just as your parents had hoped for you. Ok, they probably didn’t pick you, but they did pick each other and that’s why you are here!
Growing Up / The Minor Leagues
Like every kid, as you were growing up, you were taught the really basic fundamentals of life (i.e. the game) by your parents and your teachers in school. You’re shown the traditional ways things are done and yet you’re still free to develop your own personality and style, the things that make you unique.
Teams do just the same down in the “minors”. They teach and educate you. You train and hone your skills, perhaps in college or some other form of education, to prepare for the future. All the while, just as in life, you’re chomping at the bit for your big chance to move out and start in the big leagues as in job, career, and the earnings and the lifestyle you dream of (whatever that may be for you).
Your Career Begins / Welcome to the Major Leagues
Well, after a time, you have made it! What will happen next? You will have plenty of chances and decisions to make now that will affect your performance and your life every day. You studied and learned and are sure you’re ready for whatever life’s “curveballs” are thrown at you.
The skills you have are about to be tested and you’re thinking about all your opportunities. Your actions will impact your ratings, your income, and your future and that of your family. Will you make the right moves? Will you score early and often and will you become an all-star or just a bench player? Will you secure your future financially for you and your family or just ride the pines until you miss out on all the opportunities?
There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.Tommy Lasorda, former manager of the LA Dodgers and Hall of Famer
Your Prime Earning Years / Baseball’s Prime Time Years
In life, your best years are usually when you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s (at least as your earnings go). That is when you are growing and peaking in the most upwards of ways. It’s the time you must consider all the things that you need to consider, like homes, cars, kids, health, college funds, investments, charities, elder parents, and retirement options. Earning power and career go hand in hand and, with some planning, lay the path to successful retirements.
And it’s no different in baseball. All the pertinent stats are recorded and reviewed now more than ever and when you look at them you see where you stand pretty quickly. The curve is usually on its way up towards the pinnacle prime time peak!
In baseball, your prime years may be condensed of course, after all it’s a young man’s game and the skills are physically demanding. The years to get the prime earnings are probably geared to 25-35. Even with that point in mind, you have to be constantly aware that your ratings, performances, dependability, excellence, and consistency matter as they are the cornerstones of your success. The bottom line is this:
You only have a limited time to prepare for the next phases in both career and baseball.
Retirement / Retirement (Duh!)
We all know it’s coming at some point, or at least we should know it and prepare ourselves for it and the changes in our life that it implies.
Some of us look forward to it, prepare ourselves and succeed in adjusting to being out of the pressure and spotlight that our prime years occupied. Some of us miss that time dearly, pine for it, and never adjust, while others come into their second act.
You might seek a new side gig business or other passion you didn’t have time for earlier in life, such as the many baseball players who become coaches and commentators. But if we plan appropriately—financially, emotionally, and physically—we can enjoy this stage of life equally or even more than we did before. The baseball player may not perform in front of thousands every day any longer, but his reputation and accomplishments can make him respected, admired, and ultimately legendary. The same can be true in your life.
Being a solid or even great performer in your life can earn you the love and respect of your family and fulfill all of your dreams and hopes for both you and them. It really depends on your effort, planning, and determination, as much as any talent, you possess. The goal is to maximize your life to its best potential.
You know, some of the greatest ballplayers ever weren’t the biggest or strongest or fastest, but rather they were the smartest when it came to understanding the game and executing well all the time. That’s all anyone can really ask from you, isn’t it?
So there you have it: one man’s take on his favorite sport and life itself. I never made it to the major leagues in baseball despite my childhood dreams, but I think I did come to do it in life to my very best potential. It is something to think about and it’s probably never too late to start working towards the major leagues right now. So ask yourself this, “Are you riding the pines or are you in the game every day playing your very best?”