Spring Training is in full swing here in Florida. It’s an exciting time when fans can watch not only games, but training, work-out sessions and practices of their favorite teams. It is often a time when hard work, and not skill alone, can earn you a spot on the regular season roster.
When I was writing The Common Thread of Overcoming Adversity and Living Your Dreams, I had the pleasure of interviewing Baseball Hall of Fame legend Brooks Robinson. We can all learn from his experience how hard work and passion override ability when it comes to success.
“When I was signed in 1955, I was not a great player. I had average speed and was average all around. No one saw me as a great prospect. But I loved the game of baseball and always believed that I could make it,” he said. “I am in the Hall of Fame not because of my ability—it was my love of the game that overrode everything else.”
Robinson played his entire 23-year major league career for the Baltimore Orioles—from 1955 to 1977. Nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” he is broadly considered to be the greatest defensive third baseman in major league history. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, played in four World Series (winning against the LA Dodgers in 1966) and was selected for the All-Star Team 15 consecutive years (1960-74). In 1964, Brooks was named the American League MVP—beating out Mickey Mantle.
Over his baseball career, Brooks accumulated 2,848 hits, 268 home runs and 1,357 runs batted in. His number 5 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1977, and he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Here is some more of the wisdom he shared…
“My mindset was always to perform at a high level each and every day. Motivated by baseball history, I constantly needed to prove myself not only to others, but to myself as well.
“Ball players, and anybody who wants to have success, should keep in mind that the love of the game should be your most important thing. Professional athletes and successful people have a lot in common—they both started with an early drive for success and a love what they do. That’s what it takes: love and drive.
“The way I see it, it’s important to do the things you don’t want to do—whatever is hard for you to do—for the love and the joy success can bring.
“In the big leagues, I went to bat more than 11,000 times. During the playoffs and the World Series, I was a pretty good clutch hitter. My sense of concentration was enhanced because of all my experience. The problem I see these days is that people want to start at the top. They need to understand that you must pay your dues, learn the business, and put in the time to learn the ropes.
“I would tell up-and-coming players that they should not be afraid to practice and play all positions. This can give you a great overall feeling for and understanding of the game.
“You will not just somehow get better; nobody will give you anything. You need to work overtime to get better and better no matter what you do in life.”
“If you’re not practicing, somebody else is—somewhere, and he’ll be ready to take your job.”
Are you practicing your passion? Are you putting your full effort into what you do? Put a plan into place today to get you working toward fulfilling your dreams and being the best you can be.
2016 Jerry Gladstone