It’s easy to fall into the trap. We’ve all done it – myself included – many times. Societal norms can pull us in the wrong direction and leave us chasing the wrong things. We chase the things that the world tells us will give us a better outside appearance, when the reality is that we should be chasing the things that transform us on the inside. What are the wrong things to chase?
It’s commonplace to chase all of these things at various points in life, but happiness doesn’t always follow even after these things you think you wanted are attained. When you chase the right things, personal fulfillment is often what follows, and that’s far more valuable than dollars or fame.
The same premise holds true on the diamond. Over the past 15-plus years from working as a college assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Rutgers, to becoming a Minor League hitting instructor turned manager turned coordinator with the Red Sox, there have been far too many instances of people going after the wrong things in the wrong ways – Minor Leaguers chasing the Big Leagues; the high school kid chasing the scholarship; college coaches chasing their next job; hitters chasing hits; or pitchers chasing punchouts. Whether you are a player or a coach, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “are you chasing the right things?”
Chase Passion: truly enjoying what you do makes you want to do it more and inspires others in the process to do the same. Coaches’ love for the game gets ingrained into the players they work with. Players’ love for the game energizes their coaches to work even harder to make them better. It is a two-way street, and it happens all the time.
Chase People: those who will make you better from the inside, out. A few years ago, I had the chance to leave the Red Sox for a higher profile job and a bigger salary. Had I been presented with this opportunity 10 years prior, I would have signed on the dotted line before the offer was even done being presented because money and status were my compass. Luckily, my new compass points to people, and I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave the people with the Red Sox who gave me a second life in the game to thrive in. Turning that “better” job down was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Chase Process: when you work with the belief and the effort that you never truly arrive, one day, you truly will. Every Minor Leaguer wants to have a long Major League career. Every hitter wants to get a hit whenever they step foot in the box. And every pitcher dreams of throwing an immaculate inning, striking out the side on nine straight pitches. It’s easy to chase those results. But when people learn what exactly goes into those results and focus on controlling those things that they can control, the results they want often take care of themselves.
Chase Authenticity: surrounding yourself with real, helps you learn that you don’t have to be fake. Throughout life, we all go through insecurities. That same self-doubt is all over the place on baseball fields everywhere. “Am I good enough?” “Why can’t I break the lineup?” “I don’t throw hard enough.” We all have our own unique gifts, both on and off the field. When we truly appreciate and embrace what those gifts are that we do have and stop yearning for what are don’t, we are in a far better position to find success by simply being who we are, and doing what we do, both on and off the field.
Chase Growth: the smartest guy in the room is the one who doesn’t know a thing. When I first started coaching in 2006, I was the dumbest guy in the room because I knew it all. Once I started to understand what I, in fact, did not understand, I was able to transform myself as a coach and continue to this day to chase knowledge all the time, in some way, shape, or form. A player who chases growth welcomes their small wins, but quickly moves on to their next challenge. What does that player’s progress look like after a week, a month, a season, or a career? They are the epitome of the compound effect of simply trying to get one percent better every day.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be great. In fact, this world is in desperate need of people with great aspirations. Greatness won’t come overnight, and it surely won’t come from running in the wrong direction. But once you understand exactly what to chase, you can’t help but reach that greatness, no matter what it may look like.