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I QUIT

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I had been playing baseball since the time I could walk, and there I was in my junior year of college… quitting. The reason I quit was so simple it makes me sick just thinking about it. I quit because the circumstances weren’t ideal for me at the time. I was having some trouble dealing with some family stuff, and I didn’t particularly like the way the head coach managed the team. So I quit.

About 1 week in to quitting, I began thinking about what I had done, and exactly who I was quitting on. The first and most obvious answer was my team. I’m sure many of them were dealing with similar circumstances, but they didn’t quit. I did. Then I started thinking about my parents. I thought about all of the time and money they sacrificed for me to play baseball my entire life and through college. I thought about how much they loved watching me play and how sports brought us together.

Despite all of this, I quit. I also started thinking about myself. Baseball had been my passion my entire life. Because of the poor experience I had thus far in college, baseball had taken a back seat to football, but I was still extremely passionate about it. After 17 years and thousands of hours of practice and competition, I quit because of two things that were out of my control, and that made me uncomfortable.

One day during my baseball retirement, it hit me. I realized how much I would regret this decision 10 years down the road (interestingly, I’m writing this 11 years later). I realized I had teammates I just bailed on, I erased years of sacrifice from my family, and finally I realized I was a MUCH stronger person than to let two little things stop me from doing what I loved.

I immediately called my coach and asked to meet. I told him the truth and held myself accountable for what I had done. I asked him if he would give me an opportunity to earn a spot back on the team. Luckily, he gave me that chance.

Next I had to face the team. It’s important to understand that I had taken my hiatus from baseball during training camp. Training camp practice started at 5:00 am, which meant we needed to be there no later than 4:45 am. Camp also consisted of a substantial amount of conditioning- most of which I had missed. At the end of my first practice back, I called a quick meeting with the team. I told them the truth, apologized for what I had done, and told them it was my goal to earn their trust and respect through my actions during practice.

As the season went on I (rightfully) sat on the bench. I accepted my role and worked hard to become the best teammate I could be. I did all of the jobs that nobody wanted to do, without hesitation, and without being asked. A few games into the season, I had earned a few opportunities to play. I performed well and earned more opportunities. I made the most of them. I ended up earning the trust and respect from my teammates and coaches, and had one of my best statistical baseball seasons of my life. Our team won conference, and we made a small run in the playoffs.

I look back at this experience with so much gratitude, because I learned so many important lessons.

Lesson 1 “Decisions, not conditions determine your reality.”

In the beginning I didn’t like the conditions, so I decided to quit. When I decided to come back, none of my conditions changed, only my decision. My decision to come back ultimately determined what happened next.

Lesson 2 (Actually) DO the right thing.

It’s amazing how obvious this is, but how often do we actually DO what we know we should? Making a decision is one thing, acting on it is another. I made the decision to come back and do whatever it took to earn the trust and respect back from my teammates. I ended up having one of the best seasons of my life, and our team won conference. It’s amazing what happens when you do what you know deep down is right.

3. Quitting impacts so much more than yourself.

My team, my family and those closest to me suffered the consequences of me not doing the right thing. I was sad, depressed, and virtually useless to those around me.

4. YOU are the most important.

At the end of the day, I decided to come back because of me. My team and my family were important, don’t get me wrong. But I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t truly for myself. This sounds selfish, but it isn’t. By doing what I knew deep down was best for me, It had an extremely positive impact on those closest to me. I have memories with my family I will cherish forever, and the entire experience taught me these lessons I hope to pass on to others and my kids one day.

We’re living in a crazy time right now, and there are probably a-million-and-one things out of your control that are making you want to quit. In many circumstances, we’ve been forced to quit (laid off or fired). I know this has been a roller coaster for all of us in our own way. One thing I know for sure, quitting or giving up is not the answer.

This brings me to the last lesson I learned during this experience.

5. If you’ve already quit, it’s not over.

I believe one of the STRONGEST characteristics a human can have is humility. Dr. Jordan Peterson describes humility as “the recognition of personal insufficiency and the willingness to learn through dialog.” To do something, admit you were wrong, and hold yourself accountable for doing what you know deep down is right, in my opinion is a true sign of character and strength.

Quitting is easy. Coming back isn’t. Coming back takes strength, courage and humility. Coming back is difficult, but not impossible. The key is to get started. My comeback journey here began with a simple phone call to my coach, which ended up leading to so many great things. How does your comeback story begin?

 

-Steve


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