Voice From The Bullpen

Many of us tend to self-evaluate the things we do, trying to correct any glitches we may have encountered, or created, as we tried to accomplish something or reach a goal. Often, we feel like we constantly have to plod uphill to reach the outcome we set for ourselves at the beginning of our quest. Quite often, we may feel like every time we take one step forward, something seems to happen to knock us backward two steps.

In the giant scheme of things, we are probably far too critical of ourselves, but some try to strive for perfection, knowing we can’t get there, but strive nonetheless to possibly reach excellence, which is within our grasp, and if we are trying to grasp that “excellence,” we can’t rest on our laurels, be complacent or settle for just doing “good,” for “good” is the enemy of “best.” Continuing to plod up those hills, and continuing to self-critique the many different legs of our life’s journey is critical to making sure that even with the two steps backward situations we may face, we will still be a lot farther away from our starting point than when we began this “life trip.”

At times we may find ourselves sitting and wondering, what we have really accomplished in our lives. Did we make a difference to anyone? Did we make an impact on someone, or a group, or a situation, or a project, or a community, or a nation or the world? I wonder that often, but again, there are times that we are so critical of ourselves that we fail to see that one step forward and two steps back is still better than three (or more) steps in the opposite direction of that route which we hope to travel.

Every time we do something for someone, as little (or as much, depending on how you look at it) as thinking of them, or saying a little prayer for someone, or smiling at someone, or saying hello to someone, or giving (be it time, energy, resources, alms or anything) to a group, or charity, or whenever we vote in an election, or pay our taxes, we are taking positive steps forward, we are making a difference, we are accomplishing something.

Accomplishments shouldn’t be measured by how much we make, or what we have or what kind of car we drive. Those things would fit in a definition of “accumulations.” The definition of the word “accomplishment” is “something that has been achieved successfully.”

If you set out to be the best that you could be on a certain day, and can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of that day, and say you worked as hard as you could to reach that goal, and not necessarily actually reaching the goal, then you should be able to close your eyes that night and sleep soundly. It means that you took more than one step forward. A couple of sayings I have used in my travels are, “Failing isn’t the worst thing in the world; failing to try is the worst thing,” and “Failure is not the worst outcome; mediocrity is.” If you had a bad day, and you may not have been the best that you could have been on a particular day, but know where you stumbled and have re-routed your trip for the next day, then you have still taken one step forward, even after falling two steps backward. The key to success is to keep moving in the direction of your goal, which is to be the best that you can be on a particular day.

In my teaching days, I tried to have my students think about one period at a time, be the best they could be for an hour, then another hour, and hopefully after six hours in school they maybe could say they were the best they could be for that day. In my coaching days, I always tried to talk about winning innings, not games. If you could win more innings in a game than your opponent you could still overcome bad ones here and there and still reach your goal. Understand that the goal wasn’t the win, it was being the best we could be on that particular day. If you did that often enough, the wins would often accompany that. Did it always happen? Of course not. There are far too many other variables that can affect the outcome of a game, but if we could say we did the best we could, and we were the best we could be on a particular day, the scoreboard in our minds would show us as being victorious.

Too often we look at outcomes as being the measurement of success. A saying I often share with many with whom I work, or have worked, in my life is, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.”

I have not yet in my lifetime reached the destination I set out to reach for me, or where I want to reach for my family, or my bank account, or my retirement, nor do I think I ever will in this lifetime, as each small destination we reach is only one part of the destination of life that is reached when the journey comes to an end. But I can look at the man in the glass each day and say that my journey on this earth so far has been a great one, and one I hope I can add to each day that I have left. That’s all any of us can ask for in this life, to have the opportunity to make each day what we alone can make it, to be the best we can be on any given day.

I know sometimes I don’t convey my feelings regarding my journey to those that I love, because I sometimes get wrapped up in the two steps back in my life and forget about how great are the one steps forward I travel each day, but I know that the two steps back only happen sometimes, not always and the one step forward happens a whole lot more. When you get to be my age, you can do the math and see that I have traveled much farther forward from where I started, even with the steps back, which has made for a great journey, and hopefully one with still many miles to go.