Keep Pursuing Your Dreams – Even When It’s Tough
This was the scene at a small bar and restaurant in December of 1961. An ambitious but pretty much unknown band arrived for a gig only to discover there were just 18 people in the place.
They could have been discouraged by the lack of attendance, and they could have decided to just hang it up after such a disappointing turnout. But they continued to believe in themselves, and knew that all that work they were putting in at obscure venues with hardly anyone watching would pay off eventually.
Most fastpitch softball players know the feeling. It can be a real grind.
Practicing in freezing cold barns in the winter and hot, smelly barns or outdoors on hot, humid days in the summer. Hours spent in private lessons, then many more hours practicing on your own.
Then you go out to a game and you stink up the field. You strike out at the plate.
You miss your spots as a pitcher or hang a pitch that gets driven toward South America. You boot a routine ground ball and follow it up by throwing the ball into the parking lot, or drop a can of corn fly ball that you should be able to catch with both eyes closed.
You begin to wonder if it’s worth it – all the time spent, all the energy expended, all the heart and soul poured into a game that doesn’t seem to love you back. You think maybe you’d be better served finding something else to do with all those hours and days.
Don’t worry, those feelings actually very normal. It can be difficult to work that hard at something only to see it go bad anyway.
The thing to remember, however, is that failure (or near-failure) is only temporary. It’s also an opportunity to learn and grow.
If you struck out, whether once or every time, figure out why. Was your timing off? Were you dropping your hands and looping your swing (even though you’ve been working on not doing that)?
If you struggled as a pitcher did you focus on your mechanics when you practiced or did you just throw the ball for a prescribed period of time? Did you demand more of your pitches or did you just say “good enough” and move on?
If you had trouble fielding or throwing did you put in extra time or just stick to the minimums?
The reality is whether you do well or not is largely in your own hands. Yes, it helps to have quality coaches and/or quality training, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to be blessed with an abundance of athletic ability. None of those things are within your control.
But what is under your control is your approach to getting better. You can decide how hard you work.
You can decide how you spend your time each day, each practice. You can decide how you will react to things that are outside of your control.
And most of all, you can decide whether you are willing to do the things that are necessary to achieve your dreams or will give up at the first sign of adversity.
My recommendation, of course, is if you love fastpitch softball find a way to fight through the tough times and keep an eye on your goal. Because again, failure is only permanent if you let it be.
You can get better if you want to – and are willing to pay the price. It won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is.
As for that obscure little band from a rough-and-tumble working class city not exactly known for its contribution to the arts, things definitely did get better for them after that sparsely attended performance on a cold winter’s night in December 1961.
By December the following year they had secured a recording contract and released their first single. It didn’t do especially well but it was a start.
Within another few months they would see their next single reach #1 on the pop charts, and things would keep getting better from there. Eventually they would change the world – more than once.
Here’s a better look at that band from December 1961.
Everyone starts somewhere. The ones who make it are the ones who keep plugging away.