“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey
If you do enough of the good things right, you generally cannot go wrong. If you do enough of the good things great, you can generally go where you dream! – Dad
(I wrote the following about Christian almost exactly four years ago when he was 13 years-old and seemed worth revisiting on his birthday. Now as he turns 17 and one year away from starting his baseball career at the University of Washington, it almost seems too profetic after I saw what was emerging from him way back when this dream seemed so far down the road!
“Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose … not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.”
Failure doesn’t occur until the moment you stop trying. Even worse is if you never risk making any attempt or effort at all because it may damage what is only our ego and/or vanity – sadly that only means we’re too timid to test our courage and determination. Such a mindset is the most tragic because it serves as a better measure of our character and future direction but then again, if there was never an attempt for success, there’s no failure to compare it to and I suppose there’s a false security in that for those who choose such an approach.
I guess for many people, there’s some safety and resulting comfort in never exploring beyond the limited aspirations they’ve set forth because there’s too much uncertainty in the unknown. That’s probably a blissful and comfortable existence but for me, I just have an overwhelming desire to satisfy my curiosity, especially about things that challenge the fulfillment of what I want.
As I often do, I look back at everything good and bad that’s occurred in my life and the one essential part of the equation leading to the results of all those things has been one ingredient – ME. Did you know in high school I only applied to one college, USC, and that was for a couple of reasons. It’s the only place I wanted to go and, my family didn’t have a lot of money for me to fill out too many college applications. My grades were decent but I’m pretty sure I was accepted because I wrote a “kick-ass” application letter about why they should accept me and as you know, they did. However countering that, I also thought I’d be in love forever so that among other things canceled out my plans for USC at the time with the hope I would go there at a later time. Interesting choice on my part at the time and we all know where that thought led me but then again, I would not have found Mom and I have no regrets about the alternative outcome.
I also wanted to go to law school and while there, I honestly wasn’t at the top of my class because I knew the real prize was the bar exam and balancing working full-time, a (very) active social life, and a girlfriend who would be my wife, stretched my resources rather thin during the four years I was there. However after graduating, that’s when I shifted gears to study for the exam and passed it the first time around when 60-70% of others didn’t with some never passing even after multiple attempts. To this day I’m not sure how that happened because as I’ve mentioned before, I found out that my father had terminal cancer the night before the exam began and it would have been understandable had I been too distracted to pass. Maybe divine intervention since he passed a month afterward or I was lucky but then again, I doubt it!
The next major goal occurred after Jason was born. I was determined to invest in being a decent Dad while choosing a profession that challenges that intention so I looked for a job close to home, even though the best jobs were in LA and OC. I didn’t know “squat” about South Bay law firms but sent about 20 letters and resumes to the most interesting ones and I guess based on the way it was written, my future boss called me and after what I assume was an impressive enough interview to BS my way into getting hired, got a job at one of the best firms in So Cal, and later became a partner which is supposed to be every lawyers dream. It was not as big of a deal after a while but at least I did it which few could say. And I got to be a bigger part of not only Jason’s life but thankfully, yours! Maybe I was lucky but doubt it!
Christian, we’re alike in so many ways and maybe it’s in large part due to the time we’ve spent together since my injury and there is no precise value that could measure how grateful I am about the moments that has led us to the relationship that we now share. Some people are afraid to walk beyond what they can see because of fear of the unknown. Me, I just have to know and then respond accordingly and I see you building your confidence each day that reflects a similar approach.
Some don’t want to run in bare feet on a gravel path towards the places they want to get to because they’re afraid of falling, the cuts and bruises they’ll suffer, the dirt, etc. That’s just not a justifiable reason for me not to get there. I carry the bloodstains and scratches like a badge of honor because it means I didn’t give up even though things weren’t as smooth as I hoped for and made me more confident about the next journey ahead. I guess it’s just not within us to quit or sit still when there’s something that we feel is worth having.
It took a tortuous path that led to my injury but I guess it was just me testing a different kind of curiosity but so began a different journey that I mapped out. Was everything as smooth as I hoped for – of course not but at least I didn’t just imagine what was out there because I had to find out. I like obstacles because I enjoy the challenge of overcoming them, especially when I know the rarity of others being able to do it. Even just falling short doesn’t feel as disappointing if I at least exhausted all I had for things to result the way they did and in the end, I took something from it.
What’s pretty cool is that even though I had varying amounts of support (sometimes not a lot compared to you), all of the above were accomplished because of ME and I needed no greater incentive than what I created and demanded. Ownership of my life without excuses has made it easier to accept my shortcomings (along with accomplishments) without deflecting responsibility.
If something can’t be done, make sure that you are the one to determine what it is, with every avenue explored to make that determination. Remember that those who say you can’t do something generally never had the courage or confidence to try themselves, or just stopped pushing themselves without realizing how close they were had they kept trying a few more times. When you do it, they’ll probably say you were lucky but I doubt it since you’re already showing that you understand that there is little reason for doubt when it comes to YOU!
(Since I wrote the original version in 2015, Jason has become a sophomore starting infielder at U of Santa Clara and Christian has committed to play at U of Washington once he graduates high school in 2019 – I think they took the message to heart and continue to prove my point.)
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Know that no matter how hard we try and what is gained or left unachieved in our efforts each day, appreciate this. We learn so much about ourselves and that we can achieve exponentially more during the days ahead by applying that discovery towards our future endeavors.
I came up with this thought while at the beach the other day and it kind of encapsulated a great deal of my transformation. Walk through this with me if you can see my logic. I don’t like using the term “failure” because by making the initial effort, you have only been “unsuccessful” so far in your initial attempt(s) and only by learning through those attempts can you see how close you are to success. Hopefully you wisely use that experience and knowledge to recalculate the next attempts to quicken our approach to our objectives or expansion beyond them.
I do understand the concept of “underachievement” to the extent that one chooses, for whatever reason, not to apply their known ability to a situation that demands it. More disappointing than the outcome is the knowledge that the preparation was so insufficient that the ability could not be called upon because the resources for its application were unavailable. Either way, responsibility boils down to personal ownership of all related causes.
With respect to the over applied term “overachievement”, I’ll put it out there that it does not exist and is primarily used for dramatic effect. It’s certainly debatable but in my opinion, “overachievement” is really a matter of “under-discovery”. We learn almost every new day that we are capable of more than we expected of ourselves by embracing our existing and newly encountered challenges. Prime example: the 2014 Redondo High baseball team. Casual observers would dismiss the success of the team reaching the CIF semi-finals as just a result of “overachievement”. Maybe there was just a lack of appreciation by the coaches and team of the hurdles that needed to be conquered a month before the Bay League season started and ended (remember the no-hitter against you guys in Irvine).
But then as in life, there was a new discovery of what was always there that introduced itself through the timing, sequence, the circumstances, and opportunities that revealed themselves and were taken advantage of leading to a growing faith and belief in not only that outcome, but doing what had never been done in 100 years by taking the CIF title a year later, and the following year ending in the top 10 national rankings while doing more of what’s never been done in the quest and final culmination of another championship! “Overachievement”? Hardly since in my mind, it’s just the expansion of what has either revealed itself or you have unlocked in your hidden vault and is now part of the magical routine of your existence.
I’ll finally leave you with this challenge. I know it’s fairly impossible to bring your “A” game to every encounter. However when presented with the greatest obstacles in the path of your most sought after goals, apply and exhaust the best part of you to overcome it. Do not allow the term “underachievement” to be used to explain the outcome. You’ll see what you thought was the best you could achieve, regardless of the result, is only a precursor to what is available to you in the future given the proper outer effort and inner discovery. Then history of YOUR world can be rewritten everyday as a consequence!
The ordinary player hopes for a good game.
A good player is confident that he will.
But the truly extraordinary player sees being good as just the “ordinary” and being “great” at any moment is always within his vision, grasp, and control by what he demands of himself.
And when that moment calls, the “great” too, shall become your “ordinary”! – Dad
“No matter how many goals you have achieved, you must set your sights on a higher one.” – Jessica Savitch
Nobody who chased their dreams and goals with all of their determination and focus ever regretted doing so no matter the end result or final destination. Why? Because generally, they are still better off and often astonished by where they are when looking back on where they started! – Joe Dico
There is nothing wrong with hesitating, if even for a moment, when faced with something that scares you. However all I know is there’s no greater pronouncement of “self” than when you say “F it, this is exactly who I am and what I was made for” and then go for it because you know that “I’ve got this”! You’re my boys and everything you want is just on the other side of each challenge you accept and embark upon because in my mind and heart, I have no doubt that you truly have “got this ” and everything else that you target on your horizon you want to conquer!