When I was young, I loved to play baseball. My friends and I played every day. When Little League started, I wanted to be a pitcher. My dad was an all-star pitcher when he was a young boy and I wanted to be just like him. So he and I practiced in the backyard almost every night.
Finally, the day came for me to pitch in my first game.
I was nervous but so excited as I walked up to the pitcher’s mound. I still remember the anxious jitters I had as I put my foot on the rubber strip. I looked to the catcher for the sign, wound up and pitched.
Ball 1. No problem.
I wound up again and pitched…ball 2.
Soon ball 3 and ball 4 followed and I had officially walked the first batter I ever faced.
The second batter brought a chance to start over. I checked the runner at first, like I’d seen on T.V., wound up from the stretch, and pitched…
Within 2 minutes I had walked my second batter on 4 straight balls.
Then a third batter.
Then a fourth.
The score was 1-0 without the other team ever swinging their bat. I had not even thrown a strike.
“Just play catch with the catcher!”, said my coach.
“Just let them hit it!” said my team.
“Throw it underhand!” said some smart alec from the other team.
I soon walked 3 more batters in succession. With each batter, the strike zone and catcher’s mitt seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. As I continued to pitch, I started trying to force the ball into the strike zone. I would let go of the ball and then try to guide it into the catcher’s mitt as if by some magical force.
In the end, I walked 12 straight batters before the coach had mercy on me and brought in a new pitcher. I was devastated. My professional pitching career was over long before it ever started.
As my dad and I walked back to the car he said to me, “Just let it go.”
“I can’t!” I snapped. “How can I ever pitch again? I was horrible!”
“I mean when you pitch.” he said calmly. “Go through your wind up and delivery but when the ball leaves your hand, just let it go. Don’t try to force it into the mitt.”
“I don’t know what you mean. Obviously when I throw it I have to let it go.” I said snidely.
“True, but how much control do you have over the ball after it leaves your fingertips?”
“So all you can control are the things that happen before that point when the ball leaves your hand. After that, you have to let it go where it’s supposed to go.”
“So you’re saying that if my wind up and delivery are good, the pitch will be good?”
“Exactly. But if you focus so hard on forcing the ball into the glove, you will forget to perform a perfect delivery. Focus on the things you can control, and then just let it go. You can’t control everything. Great results will always follow great actions.”
My pitching career didn’t last more than a couple of seasons of little league. I moved on to other interests. Later in my life, however, I was able to revisit the wisdom of my father’s words. Often times in my adult life, I have tried to control the results around me. I want everything to work out perfectly so I try to force the results. And when I do, I often end up frustrated.
At these times, the words of my father come into my head, “Let it go.”
“Focus on the things you can control. Do your best. Then let it go. If you can perfect the things in your control, you will see great results.”
“Once you let it go, forget about it. Have faith that great things will come from your efforts.”
So when life seems to get crazy and out of control, remember to slow down for a minute. Look for ways to work on yourself and those aspects of your life that you can control….and then just let it go. “Great results always stem from great actions.”
May you throw many strikes in the pursuit of happiness!
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