I remember watching it all happen. I was in the dugout as a junior, we were playing one of the best teams in the league, the lead was slipping away from us, top of the 8th, and the walks started coming. Our pitcher was losing gas and we were losing some serious momentum in the game.
I was nervous, not because the lead was slipping away from us, but because I knew that I was going to be called in to go next.
Sure enough, “Sanders, go warmup.”
I threw my jacket off and ran down to the bullpen with my catcher. 3 pitches into my warmup I got the call to go into the game. Good lord I only got three pitches in. Even though my heart was pounding because of the pressure I wanted the ball. My coach looks at me and goes “Don’t worry you’ll have these next 8 to get it going.” 11 pitches…not exactly what you would call a thorough warmup.
I’ll never forget this moment. The crowd was buzzing with anticipation and the opposing team was screaming everything they possibly could at me to get into my head. They were trying to tear me up but as the stadium got louder my mind got quieter and quieter.
I stepped off the mound, talked to my catcher for a second and when I was ready to commit to the game plan, I made my move back up to the rubber. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
Three pitches, out of the inning.
‘Okay, you’ve got the 9th to pitch as well and their best hitters are coming up…stay focused.’
I don’t remember the exact details of what happened here, but all I know is that I ended up with a guy on first, two outs, up by one run and their best hitter – arguably one of the best in the league was coming up. We battled against each other and drove the thing into a 3-2 count. There were a few foul balls and this is where my memory really comes back into crystal clear replay.
I took a walk around the mound, looked out into the outfield, and searched within myself for that little something extra. ‘You’ve got this.’ I walked back up on the mound, up on top of the rubber…looked at the catchers sign, shook off an off speed pitch, and went straight to a fastball.
I was ready.
I was ready to challenge him with my best.
‘My best vs. your best. Let’s go.’
The windup, the pitch.
Straight to my second baseman.
It has been a long time since I’ve stepped on the mound, but that moment will always stay with me. That moment meant a whole lot more to me than just helping win a game for my team. That moment to me means this…
Safe makes you good, but chances make you great.
My best vs. your best. Why was I able to do that? Why does this moment stick with me so much out of all of the moments I had playing sports?
In that moment, I called on something in myself much deeper than confidence. In that moment, I knew I was prepared for anything and was willing to take a massive chance on riding on my best stuff and to put it up against his best stuff. There was no fear there. There was no questioning the outcome. There was only…’This is the best I have. If you get a hit, you beat me when I was at my best.’
We call those “cap-tipping” moments as pitchers. You tip your cap to the opposing player because he legitimately beat you on that one. No worries, you will come back and own him the next time.
Why am I talking about this today?
This past 6 months has been the most transformational period of my life. Things have been developing, shifting, shaping, and changing all at 100 miles an hour and it’s been one hell of a ride. But what I can tell you is that going through this really hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. It’s been hard to slow everything down to a point of complete clarity at times. Thank god for meditation. What made it challenging though is that I’ve had to openly go into places I really didn’t want to go before. I’ve had to crawl through the mud and open my life to experiencing the power of dark energy. Whenever you go into a new place, you don’t know the surroundings and you are unsure of what to do. So for a little while there, you are going to be overwhelmed by what is so new.
But out of this place, because I stuck with it, I found something that had been lost for a long long time. I not only found my “why”…but I rediscovered my “know.”
That “I know this is the absolute right thing for me” drifted because of the consequences of various life events that drove me down into the ground. I didn’t lose pieces of myself in those moments, but I lost connection with them. That connection and ability to “reach for something more” inside…for some reason it just seemed to not be there. I remember trying to come back from injury and having absolutely no trust in my arm that it would do that it was supposed to do. That was a really hard thing for me to stomach.
The one thing I had been doing all of my life, not even thinking about it just doing it, started to have a system failure.
My life lives outside the lines of a baseball field now, but in reality, I still have to get back on the field every single day. While I may not be throwing in the game anymore, it’s a different type of game now. This is the game of life, and for a long time I was off the field of play because I didn’t feel like I was ready to jump back out there again.
The thought of not being able to trust my stuff due to a body that fell apart and a slew of self-sabotaging actions after baseball ended undermined my ability to reach inside and say ‘I got this.’
But still, why am I bringing all of this up? 1000 words into this post and where’s the point?
The point is this.
You can either play it safe your entire life or you can take big risks and big chances to see what is actually possible for yourself. You can come back from injury, physical, emotional, relational, do the work/rehab it takes to be stronger than you were before and start playing on the field of life again. You can start going after your goals even though you have failed time and time again. You can change your entire life if you really want to. You can earn it all back and more and once again find that thing deep inside of you that allows you to say ‘I got this’ in a life of complete uncertainty. Either let the future scare the shit out of you or bring yourself back to being in this moment and rock the socks off of today. That’s your choice. You can function at a specific level that will allow you to do things in life all while being safe, or you can put your heart and soul on the line and do what scares you.
The first quote I ever posted on The Better Man Project was this…
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Almost 5 years later, while everything has changed, things are still the same.
My life is laid out in black in over thousands and thousands of pages and there have been a few moments which I ended up calling “Life Events” in my books. Today, is one of those events because today I’m making a choice. Today I’m making the choice to take my first steps in breaking free from some old habits…and to break back into that place where that deep inner wisdom is stored. It’s there…I’ve had moment after moment with it for a little while now. But it’s asking me for something more.
It’s asking me to stop and look fear in the face.
It’s asking me to have the courage to act anyways.