“The difference in winning and losing is most often…not quitting.”
– Walt Disney
There is a great story in Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. It’s about a man who gave up his quest for gold during the California Gold Rush many years ago.
The man spent many months prospecting for gold, believing that one day he would strike gold, just like many others during that time. Every day he went out to the hills with basic tools and mined for gold. He would find some gold; but not the fortune that he was hoping to find.
After several months of mining the man decided to quit. He no longer believed that he was going to find the bounty he sought. Another prospector, hearing that the man was quitting, offered to buy all of his tools. The man agreed.
The second prospector approached mining a bit differently than the first man. He hired a surveyor, a geologist and an engineer to begin working on the land that the first man had been mining.
The men studied the mine and discovered that the first man had been three feet from the gold he was seeking. That’s right…3 FEET! The original prospector simply gave up too soon. When he heard of what the men found, the prospector could only wonder what could have been if he had just continued to push forward.
When he heard about the discovery, the man could do nothing but wonder what might have been.
Like the original prospector, I feel many of our youth are quitting baseball before they have a chance to see if they could excel at the game. Here is a scenario that is likely to play out:
A child is excited about the upcoming season. They show up to the first practice and enjoy meeting their teammates and their coaches. Unfortunately, the child struggles with the game. The child struggles to field, catch pop ups, and can’t get the ball to go where they want to throw it. At the plate, they start out confident that they will get a hit. But, they struggle to make contact. And when they do, the ball never leaves the infield. The child struggles while watching others do well.
The young child is determined to make it work; and they show up to the field for each and every practice and game. However, as the season wears on, their frustration builds. And by the end of the season, the enthusiasm they had on opening day is now a distant memory.
The child, after the last game, informs mom and dad that they no longer want to play baseball. Mom and Dad let it go, knowing that it’s probably just the frustration at the moment and feel it will pass. When it comes time to sign up for the next season, the child insists they do not want to play. The struggles experienced a few months back are still on their mind.
Years ago, quitting may not have been so easy. Why? Because there weren’t many options for kids. Baseball was played in the Spring. Football or Soccer in the Fall. And Basketball in the Winter. Sure there were other seasonal sports like Lacrosse, Wrestling, Swimming, etc; but the days of year-round sports were not yet upon us. Today? Well, it’s plenty different. Every sport seems to be year-round. Struggling in Baseball? No problem, you can play soccer year-round. Parents don’t have to let their kids suffer in a sport in which they struggle because there are PLENTY of other sports their child can play at the same time. So, it’s become REAL EASY to let our kids quit. No parent wants to see their child suffer through failure. Especially since there are so many options for their child that can keep them active. But…we shouldn’t let them quit.
When we let a child quit after a season or two, we never get to see if they could excel at the game. Of course, one could argue that, if they don’t enjoy it, let them quit. BUT, they aren’t enjoying it because they aren’t doing well. Put them in a situation where they have a chance!
Just like the first prospector, he didn’t have the appropriate tools. Maybe our kids don’t have the right tools. When the second prospector took over, he brought in an engineer, a surveyor and a geologist. He invested in the right tools. Invest in the right tools for your child and your child will likely see an improvement in their game. When their game improves so too will their attitude for the game. Change their attitude and they’ll want to keep playing.
Finding the right tools can be a difficult task. There are many companies that claim they have the right instructor, or the right camp for your child. My recommendation, though, is to do your homework. Seek out parents of kids that are excelling at the game and ask them where their child learned to play. Which camps did they go to, or which instructor gave them lessons.
Quitting is something you don’t want to become a habit for your kids. A child that quits one thing learns that they can quit the next thing they find to be a struggle. If this habit repeats itself, the child fails to learn the concepts of dealing with failure or perseverance. Dealing with failure and learning perseverance are life lessons that all parents should want their children to learn at a young age so they can deal with future obstacles that they will surely encounter as adults.
Give your kid a chance to find out if they can truly play the game. I fear that many are quitting before they ever give the game a chance. If they do experience frustration, and you feel they may want to quit; stand behind them and encourage them to push forward. Invest in the proper tools…because success may just be three feet in front of them!