Mindset and Growth

Posted: February 4, 2013 in Mindset

“True self-confidence is ‘the courage to be open –to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.’ Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.” ~ Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (excerpt from Mindset by Carol Dweck)

In order to realize our full potential, we must focus our energy on growth. If we are constantly seeking to prove our superiority, we may experience initial success, but never sustainability. If we seek praise for our natural intelligence and abilities, rather than our hard work and determination, we will begin to steer away from challenging tasks that allow us to improve. If we strive for perfection, we will avoid failure at all costs, and never learn the limits of our potential.

In today’s world everyone wants to protect themselves and others from failure. Our society is infiltrated with the fixed mindset. We all think that failure is a reflection of our very being. If I take a math test and “fail,” I must not be any good at math. If I strike out in a baseball game, then I must be a terrible hitter. If I get rejected from my top choice for med school, then I must not have what it takes to be a doctor. That’s all a load of horse crap. To fail is a blessing. To fail is a gift. To fail is the single most powerful tool that can help us grow. See, failure isn’t the end. Failure is the beginning. It gives us feedback. It lets us know what to work on and how we can improve.

My low score on my math test gives me feedback. It lets me know that what I did to prepare was insufficient. In order to do better on the next one, I will need to reassess my note-taking in class, change the way I do the homework problems and re-evaluate the ways that I prepare for the test. I will continue to make adjustments and work hard until I progress. If I strike out, it doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible hitter. It means that the pitcher beat me that one time. But for my next at bat, I’m going to take what I learned and adjust my approach. I will use my new information to punish the pitcher the next opportunity I get.

Too often, we experience failure when we first try something and give up. Or maybe we have experienced success for a long time, and then advance to a new level and strike out. Rather than wiping ourselves off, gathering all the feedback possible and actually putting in some hard work, we throw our hands up in exasperation and say well, I guess I was never really that good anyways.

Now I’m not saying that we can all be Valedictorians at Harvard, Major League Baseball players, or CEO’s, but with the growth mindset, by welcoming failure feedback and working hard, we can certainly all realize our potential.

The Grind

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Ten days ago, I arrived in Boston and have been working on getting settled in to life in New England. My strength training program at Cressey Performance has been awesome. I have found a couple guys that want to hit every day. And I just moved into an apartment with a fellow baseball player, attached to the house of a great family. I’m hitting my stride here and feeling really good about the havoc I will be wreaking this winter.

Cressey Performance, one of the global leaders in baseball strength training, is where I’m getting better this winter. When I arrived in Boston, Eric Cressey and his staff put me through an evaluation to find my weaknesses and imbalances. With this information, they designed a unique program just for me. In my program, I lift four days a week and run twice a week. That’s six days a week in the gym. My lifting sessions, which include myofacial release (foam rolling), a specialized warm-up, medicine ball work, and my upper or lower body workout, take about two and half hours to complete. Every day, I am pouring everything I have into my workouts and leaving Cressey absolutely crushed. I remember reading an article about Mark Derosa’s off-season workouts (a former Chicago Cub). He said that his goal is to train so hard in the off-season that the actual season is a breeze. That’s what I’m doing right now. And that’s what I will be doing for the next four months.

In addition to the hours that I am putting in the gym, I have also been getting to the batting cages every day. While most of the guys working out at Cressey are pitchers, I have found a couple other position players that are looking to hit. About half-way through my time in Germany, I made a pretty large adjustment to my swing. All my life, I have been very rotational. That swing style has allowed me to be successful in every level I have played at but did not take me to that ever-elusive next level. Just about every big leaguer has a linear swing, as opposed to rotational. Over the last five months, I have been working on transforming my swing to become more linear. Linear equals more bat speed. More bat speed equals hitting better pitchers and hitting them with more power. I will continue to work on this every day.

In order to maintain and enhance my work-out schedule, I have also transformed the way I eat. With the help of Chris Howard, nutrition specialist at Cressey Performance, I am combining my workout program with a nutritional program to optimize my strength gains. Some of the key components to my food plan are eating five to six meals a day and eating a protein, vegetable, carbohydrate and fat with every one of those meals. With my lifting, running, hitting and eating programs, I am attacking my training like never before.

Here is a sample day: Making days like this a habit is where I’m going to create separation from my competition. Whatever happens in my baseball career, I will leave the field knowing I did everything I could to be successful.

8:30 – Wake Up
9:15 – Breakfast – 4 eggs scrambled, with peppers, onions, mushrooms, squash, made with olive oil
11:30 – Greek Yogurt, Carrots, and Assorted Nuts
11:45 – Self-Inflicted Soft Tissue Work aka foam rolling and warming up
12:30 – Med Ball Work and Lift
2:30 – Post workout Shake (milk, peanut butter, spinach, oats, protein powder, creatine, yogurt, frozen berries) and Post workout Meal – 2 meatballs with rice and broccoli
3:00-5:00 – Hit and Throw – Hitting includes tee work, front toss and overhand
4:30 – Squeeze in some leftovers from the night before – Chicken and Vegetables
7:30 – Dinner – Fish Filets with vegetables and a banana
11:00 – Pre-Bed Snack – Cottage Cheese and Fruit
12:00 – Lights Out

Let’s go.

Professional Baseball Contract

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

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When I first began writing, I was on a plane headed to Australia. Now I find myself, again, at the airport, except this time with a slightly different mindset and a much shorter flight. I traveled to Australia to continue to work on my baseball skills, but also to experience a new part of the world. Now, I am heading to the Northeast with a more singular purpose.

When I dream about being a professional baseball player, I don’t think about the packed stadiums, autograph-seeking kids, chartered flights, and certainly not the paycheck. What I dream about is the ten hour days spent at the ball park lifting weights, base-running, bunting, throwing, fielding and hitting. And doing all that before the first pitch is even thrown. At about two in the afternoon yesterday, my dream became a lot more real, when I signed a professional contract with the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League.

The Miners are a long ways from the Major Leagues. They are a member of the Frontier League, the oldest independent professional baseball association in the country. Indy ball is a destination for players that get cut from minor and major league rosters or players like me who are looking for an opportunity to improve. All of us are trying to get to or get back to affiliated baseball, that is, affiliated with a major league organization. This route is certainly not the one I imagined growing up. I didn’t even know something like this even existed. But things never work out exactly the way you think.

I’ve always had big dreams, but I’ve learned to set goals that are just in front of me and work my absolute ass off to achieve them. Right now, my goal is to make the opening day roster for the Miners. Spring Training begins May 1st. Even though I have signed a contract, I can be released any day for any reason. Not the job security that most people seek out of college, but I couldn’t be happier. For the next four and a half months, I will pour everything I have into every single day to prepare myself for the upcoming season, my first season as a professional baseball player in the US.

There are so many people that have helped me get to the point where I am today. I have acknowledged many of these people here. Without my friends, families, and coaches, I would not be where I am today. But most of all, I want to thank my parents. My mom and dad have been so supportive of me and my passion for playing baseball. In addition, you are two of the hardest-working people I know. You have shown me that the only way to achieve anything worthwhile is through hard work. Thank you so much.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m about to get after it. Let’s go!

Hard Work

Posted: November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

My Last Week in Australia

Posted: November 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

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In the introduction to my blog, I said that baseball has been the “it” that I have been getting after for most of my life. I, also, said I have realized that there is more to life than baseball. And so Australia would be the perfect opportunity to get after baseball, while enjoying the thrills and excitements of new experiences in a new country. 

What I have recently recognized, though, is that in order for me to be happy, I need to know deep down that I am doing everything I can to achieve my baseball goals. Over the last few weeks, the feeling that I could be doing more has been building. I have, therefore, with the support of my friends and family, created an opportunity to completely commit myself to training at the Elite Baseball Development Program at Cressey Performance in Boston (http://www.cresseyperformance.com/services/elite-baseball-development-program/). For now, I believe that moving to Boston and working with those guys will give me the best opportunity to succeed. So I will be boarding a plane on Thursday for Nashville to exchange my board shorts for sweatpants and to prepare myself to get after it like I never have before.

While figuring all of this out this week, I grinded out my class work for my fitness certification, played two baseball games and tried to soak in as much of Australia as possible.

My course continued to interest me and inspire me to learn more about fitness. After I complete a few tests online, I will be officially licensed as an Australian something-or-another. The certification does not translate directly to the United States, so what I will be taking most from the class is a newfound interest in the science behind training. As I said before, it probably won’t be the last time I study it.

On the field this week, we salvaged a tie in game one against Ryde, and then came back and destroyed them on Saturday night. A few highlights from the week were Fox’s inside-the-park grand slam, BJ’s four hit performance, Rod’s Herculean plays at short and intimidating plate presence, solid pitching from the staff, ultimate consistency from Daniel in every aspect of the game, and obviously some unreal coaching decisions by Timmy. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates and coaches. You guys have made my time here. Thank you so much and I can’t wait to follow you guys as you roll to a State League championship.

Looking forward to my last three days, I’ll be trying to experience the area as much as possible. So obviously that means that I’m going surfing Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, I’ll be climbing the Sydney Bridge and hopefully fitting in the zoo so I can see some dang Kangaroos. I’ll be taking lots of pictures that I’m hoping will keep me warm during the US winter.

Finally, I have really had such a great time in Australia and I know that if I stayed, I would continue to enjoy myself. Coming back to the states to train is just something that I really want and have to do right now. I am so thankful for everyone that has made my experience out here so great. For those of you that I will be leaving, enjoy some sun for me and get after that title!

Cheers!

 

 

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This past week was awesome. From 9-5 every day, I was in class working on my fitness certification. At night and in the mornings, I was either training or playing baseball. It really was a week full of sports and exercise, and I have to say, I could get used to it.

First off, my fitness course has been absolutely mind blowing. This section is only two weeks, whereas many courses for the same certification are up to five weeks. So we are getting information overload.  I’ve learned about a few of the hundreds of bones and muscles in our body. I’ve learned about the muscles fibers and cells that make up our body. I’ve learned about how muscles contract. I’ve learned how our muscles recover during and after exercise. I’ve learned about the role of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our bodies. I’ve learned about different training models. And the list goes on. But what I have really learned is that there is so much information out there to learn. I’m really excited for my second week of the course, but also for where my interest in this field will take me in the future.

On the diamond this week, we ran away with two games against Canterbury. We took game one 15-3 and won the second game in a similar fashion. Our pitching, defense, and hitting were all good.  On Wednesday, we jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a victory with everyone on the team contributing. Today, we struggled a little bit in the beginning to score runs, but our pitching and defense kept the game tight, and our bats exploded for double-digit runs in the second half of the game.  A few of the highlights from the week were a moonshot bomb by Alessio on Wednesday, some great defensive work by BJ at first and third base (showing us that even big guys can dance), great pitching, our center fielder Scott Riddle putting the ball out of the infield today so he doesn’t have to impose retirement on himself, some young guys stepping up, and obviously some great third base coach swag from the Gipper.  For the week, I was 7-9 with a few rbi’s, walks, and stolen bases. It was a fun week, and I made a little adjustment in my swing that finally allowed me to start hitting the ball hard again.  Big series next week against Ryde!

I’m still hoping to catch on with a team in the ABL. No word yet, but I’ll just keep at it and see what happens. I started looking towards some independent professional team and league tryouts for next season in the US.  That’s a bit down the road but I’m looking to set up some opportunities to show what I can do on the field and find a spot to play.

Until next week!

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(Not Me)

As winter approaches in the States, life out here in Australia keeps getting better.  This week included two more wins for the Manly Eagles, my first attempt at body-boarding and a great new book.

We took care of business this week on the diamond with two hard fought wins against Macarthur, the second place team in the league. On Wednesday night, Jim “It’s Miller Time!” Miller, came out and threw a great game. Aided by a few costly errors, we snuck four runs up on the board and stole the victory. This afternoon, with an opportunity for the series sweep, four pitchers, led by Adam Brown”ie,” battled their asses off. It took a full team effort, spearheaded by head coach and game MVP Tim Harradine, to get the win. Jimbo Miller, our mid-week starter, pitched a couple innings in relief and continues to show his value to the team every game. For the week, I had three hits in eight at-bats. I swiped a couple bases today and played some solid defense. I really feel like I left too many at-bats out on the field this week so I’m looking forward to getting back to work this week and improving. Back to the cage and the gym tomorrow!

On Thursday, I had my first go at body-boarding. I figured that it would be a good introduction to surfing and help me get a better feel for the waves. Turns out, it’s not as easy as it looks. After forty-five minutes of getting absolutely pummeled by water, I had to call it a day. Let’s just chalk that one up to the tide or something. I will not be deterred!

Also this week, I started reading MindSet by Carol Dweck. In it, Dweck describes the fixed and growth mindsets. People with fixed mindsets believe that talent is inherited. Failure, then, tells you something permanent about yourself. Fixed mindset people will, therefore, avoid challenging tasks because they may reveal inadequacies and threaten one’s identity. People with the growth mindset, however, believe that talent is earned from hard work and perseverance. Failure is merely feedback and an opportunity for improvement. Growth mindset people will, therefore, seek out challenging tasks in order to stretch themselves. While it’s easy to see which mindset is better for development and progress, I know, personally, it’s not always so easy to embrace failure.

Tomorrow, I will be starting my two-week fitness certification course in downtown Sydney. I’m really excited about getting back in the classroom, learning about sports, and meeting some more Aussies.

Another week has gone by without receiving the call from the Australian Baseball League. I went out to the game on Friday and I know I can compete with those guys. Until the call comes, though, I’ll keep plugging away. The beach and my teammates make it a lot easier to stomach.

Finally, I hope everyone is enjoying my posts. Please let me know if there is anything more you want to know or anything you think I could change to make this blog better. You can email me or just leave a quick comment. Until next week!

Aside  —  Posted: November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized