On the “Rich Eisen Show”, Reggie Jackson said, “I think I struck out too much.” For the record, in MLB history, Reggie Jackson has struck out more than any other Baseball player. 2,597 strikeouts to be exact. He is a four-time World Series Champion, a two-time World Series MVP, and a 14 time All-star. He also finished first in homeruns four times and as a result was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. If you had asked most people, including myself, they wouldn’t know that Reggie Jackson had struck out more than any other player. They would only know that he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
Every baseball player will tell you, and statistics confirm, that hitting a homerun is anything but guaranteed. It is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. The simple truth is that you can’t hit a homerun every time. Most at-bats will be strikeouts or base hits. In fact, this is the reason we celebrate homeruns the way we do.
Similarly, in life we can long to hit a homerun, but most days will be run of the mill. Some days we will strike out. Other days we will make small advancements. But life is a full season – not a single at bat. Purposeful resilience is the standard by which we should be measured. In this day and age of instant gratification it may be difficult to play the long game that has always proven to work. Social media bombardment can tempt us to buy into the masquerade propagated by Facebook and Instagram posts. Remind yourself that only what happens in reality counts.
If the goal is to win the World Series, you can’t allow yourself to get discouraged by 1, 2, or even 20 strikeouts. If your goal is to live out your purpose for your entire life, 1, 2 or 20 mistakes or setbacks can’t discourage you. I’ll let you in on a little secret – you will have moments of misfortune and flashes of failure. There is no one who has become extremely successful or influential that was born that way. ALL of them failed at once or twice or were told no, never or no way at some point in their lives but the reason you know their names is because they didn’t stop when those things happened.
No one needs to be told that they can make it when they are already successful. This is why there are so many self-help books and online advice columns. Even scripture is replete with encouragement and advice to the individual who is considering throwing in the towel. 2 Chronicles 15:7 says, “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” Joshua 1:7a says, “Only be strong and very courageous…” Once we swing and miss we need to be reminded that we still have a reason to keep swinging. We need to be reminded about why we are swinging. We need to be reminded with love by those that we love that we have a purpose and to keep pursuing it.
With confidence in our pocket we proceed to the next phase. Maybe at this point we have achieved some small victories. Most importantly, we’re still in the game. What you do here could determine how you finish. Do you call for support and talk to a coach? Do you rethink your previous mistakes so that you don’t make them again? Whatever you do, remind yourself about why you stepped to the plate in the first place. The reason is that what’s inside of you needed to come out. Your desire to build, create, mentor, teach, sing, dance, or govern has brought you to this moment. There’s no turning back. Study your opponent, which may be procrastination, pride, or patience and determine within yourself to defeat it.
You made it this far, now finish strong. You may have struggled for a year or two but you have many good years left to live. In life hitting one homerun can keep you running for the next forty years. Unlike baseball, in life you can get more than three strikes and still be active in the game. “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Prov. 24:16). Two strikes doesn’t mean you’re out. It just means you need to focus that much more. You might be going through certain sufferings or obstacles but always focus on what you’re going to, not through. In other words, focus on your why instead of your what.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill