I’ve written and spoken a lot about how the fears we all have (failure, rejection, embarrassment) are merely dents to the ego. They are what I call “mental bruises.” Yet these fears are often the greatest inhibitors to achievement. What you don’t try you won’t achieve.
Because our fear of failure is often more powerful than our desire to overcome it, we tend to avoid stressful moments. Our minds are programmed to avoid uncomfortable, sweaty-palm situations.
But when we avoid big moments, we eliminate big opportunities. In the words of Lewis Carroll: “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”
If you’re like me, as you become older your biggest regrets are not from when you tried and failed, but from when you didn’t try because you feared failure. In the words of Mercedes Lackey: “If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.”
On Monday night, June 13, I had a big, scary, sweaty-palm moment. I was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Diamondbacks game. These days I rarely get nervous about anything, but this was an exception. As I mentioned in my Greg’s First Pitch article a few weeks ago, there have been some notoriously bad first pitches (Michael Jordan, Carl Lewis, Bruce Willis, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent). I was determined not to be on that list. In fact, I refused to watch videos of bad pitches lest I internalize them mentally.
So how did I do? Not only did I throw a strike for my ceremonial first pitch, but my nephew, Jason, was behind home plate as catcher, which made it an even bigger moment. Of course, my “fastball” only clocked in at 28 mph! Nevertheless, this was a memorable moment in my life and I am proud of how I performed under pressure.
I had several hundred friends, family, and members of my 72SOLD team at the ballpark for this special occasion. Here are some highlights from the big night…
Why A Bobcat?
My son, Brian, is not an avid baseball fan but he was in attendance to root me on. At one point he asked, “If the Diamondbacks’ logo is a rattlesnake, why is the team mascot a bobcat?”
Admittedly, I was a bit puzzled as well, but our good family friend and information expert, Sarah Perkins, shed some light on this one…
Jay Bell was the Diamondbacks’ second baseman for the 1998 inaugural season. Jay’s son, Brantley, suggested the mascot should be a bobcat named after the team’s stadium, which was Bank One Ballpark at the time, or “BOB” for short.
As a result, D. Baxter the Bobcat made his debut in the 2000 season. His name is a play on the team’s nickname…the D-Backs. The stadium was renamed Chase Field in 2005, but fans demanded that our beloved bobcat mascot remain.
Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez played 19 seasons in the MLB. Sports enthusiasts agree that some of his best years were played with the Diamondbacks between 1999 and 2006.
Gonzo made history with his winning walk-off hit in game seven of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees. It is our team’s first and only World Series championship to date. In 2010 the Diamondbacks retired Gonzo’s uniform number #20, making him the first player to earn this honor by the team.
You can imagine how fun it was when the great Gonzo strolled into our suite to say hello. He was kind enough to autograph my first pitch baseball.
Another unexpected highlight of the night was when I was invited to participate in the live television game commentary in the stadium TV broadcasting booth with Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly. I have a state of the art recording studio in my office for my radio and TV commercials, but as you might imagine, it doesn’t hold a candle to the broadcasting booth at Chase Field.
Our legacy is who we become, not the failures it took to get there. We must celebrate the opportunity to have big, scary moments. If they don’t present themselves we must find them…or make them!
In one of my favorite movies, Tin Cup, Kevin Costner says, “When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment defines you.”
Did my 28 mph pitch define the moment? It did for me.