We all know Thomas Edison as the famed inventor of the light bulb. Many of us have heard the story of how Edison unsuccessfully attempted to invent the light bulb thousands of times. When he finally succeeded, a reporter asked him about his many failed attempts and Edison replied, "I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Talk about a unique mindset.
Edison was a prolific inventor, ultimately holding more than a thousand patents. You would think that a man who created the lightbulb, among many other incredible inventions, would be satisfied with his achievements and success and simply call it quits. So why did he keep at it? Well I think another of Edison's quotes is telling:
"Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure."
In today's politically correct and ultra-sensitive world, this may seem too harsh. We hand out participation trophies and tell kids they are all winners and so special. We preach that people should be satisfied and content in who they are and the abilities they possess. I can only imagine how Edison might scoff at this mindset. I think Edison's quote is how most successful people look at life and achievement.
Before I launch into my thoughts on this subject, I want to give credit for the subject of this post. I was in Tampa, Florida recently and had the opportunity to visit with Randy Sullivan at the Florida Baseball Ranch. Randy was explaining how he had just finished reading Frans Bosch's new book and how transformational it was for him. Randy was bursting with new ideas and thoughts on how to train athletes. It was incredible listening to Randy and how excited he was to have attained this new insight and knowledge. Randy is clearly a voracious learner. He wants to read, ingest, and analyze as much information as possible in order to apply what pieces of that information he can at the Florida Baseball Ranch.
Talking with Randy made me think of the Edison quote above. Randy has developed a reputation as a leading physical therapist and pitching instructor. But he isn't satisfied. He continually wants to learn and improve his knowledge base and understanding. Ron Wolforth at the Texas Baseball Ranch has been like this as long as I've known him. I used to always joke with Ron that I couldn't leave the Texas Baseball Ranch for even a day or else I'd come back and wouldn't recognize anything due to all the new concepts that would have been implemented in my absence.
Now back to my point re: Edison's quote: too many athletes and coaches are just "satisfied." How many coaches are still running practices and training their baseball athletes the same way they were 15 years ago? Too many. This is insane given the amount of information on training and coaching at the tips of your fingertips.
Athletes are just as guilty as coaches. I trained a few off-seasons with a pitcher who was a 10+ year MLB veteran. This individual was an All-Star who won several World Series and earned close to $100 million in his career. Yet, the running joke was that he was only good every other year. After a good season he would not work very hard during the off-season. He would gain weight and would be out of shape. He was too satisfied with his previous season. The following season he would be a disaster, he would battle injuries, have a bloated ERA, and would seriously underachieve. But the next off-season he was motivated, would work hard, and would have a great season. I watched that absurd cycle for several years.
Another example of this is based on my many years of training at the Texas Baseball Ranch. I witnessed so many guys come to the Ranch and increase their velocity to 90+ mph. This would result in them being highly scouted and placed on a pedestal in the baseball community. They were so satisfied with how good they had become, as demonstrated by the Division 1 scholarships and numerous scouts at their games, that they would quit coming to the Ranch and quit pushing the envelope in their training. They were quite satisfied! Fast forward a few years and they would unceremoniously return to the Ranch throwing low-to-mid 80's and were desperately trying to recapture the magic.
The bottom line is that satisfaction and complacency is the enemy for all great achievement and improvement. If you are happy with where you are currently you are not going to be motivated to move forward to a better you. This applies whether you are a baseball athlete or a businessman. We have never "arrived," and any achievement can be lost with complacency--especially athletic achievement. There is always more work to be done, more knowledge to gain, and more information to consume. As a pitcher, perhaps you have achieved your velocity goal of 90 mph. Congratulations! Now try to get to 91 mph. There is always additional velocity, improved command, sharper off-speed pitches, and a better mindset waiting somewhere on the road ahead of you. It is up to you to ensure that you are traveling forward on that road.
Until next time,