"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."
- Helen Keller
When I was in professional baseball I had this brilliant idea. My plan was to develop an instrument that would be used to predict baseball success. Up until that time the only predictor of how well a ballplayer would perform at the major league level was running speed and arm velocity. Although these two variables were important to baseball success, they were not a valid predictor of baseball success. I figured that if I could come up with a valid instrument that could forecast how well a player would do in the major leagues, I would be able to save professional baseball millions of dollars and...well make myself a million dollars.
The first thing I did was call Dr. William Spieth, a close friend of mine who was a motor learning expert. I figured that if anyone could help me he was the man. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested. He said "Do you know what your problem is Judd? Everything you do you "shoot for the moon" Why not try something that is within reason?" Actually, he was probably right; I do have a tendency to "shoot for the moon. Still, I was not about to give up on my idea just because he thought it was impossible. Anyone can do things that are in reason. Doing the impossible; that's what makes you great. Sometimes you have to dare to walk where demons fear to tread.
With that in mind I spent the next three years of my life researching my idea. I probably put a good thousand hours of work into the project, and a lot of money. When everything was said and done, the project was a bust. I couldn't come up with a single instrument that would irrefutably predict baseball ability. I believe I got close but, no red star. I remember Spieth called me and said, "I told you it was impossible. You wasted three years of your life working on that project and all you have to show for it is one big failure." Well Spieth was wrong! Dead wrong! I may not have come up with the instrument, but I didn't fail, and I certainly didn't waste my time. I gained so much knowledge from that experience, it was incredible. I learned about biomechanics, biorhythms, statistics, experimental design, testing, motor development, psychological analysis, vision, and that is just the half of it. It was one of the richest experiences of my life. Here is something you have to understand, it's not the destination that is important but the journey.
Let me tell you a cute story I heard on the radio a few weeks ago when I was driving home from work. It was about these two little boys who were in their back yard digging this huge hole. They had dug a good three feet into the ground when an older boy walked over to them and asked what they were doing. "We are digging to China," said the boys. "Our teacher told us that if we dug right through the middle of the earth when we got to the other side we would be in China. So we are going to dig our way to China." The older boy started laughing "There is no way in the world you can dig to China. That is a goal you will never achieve. It is impossible." At first the little boys just stared at him with a puzzled look on their face. Then one of the youngsters picked up a jar that had earthworms, snails, buttons and an assortment of other bits and pieces in it and showed it to the older boy. "We may never get to China," he said, "but look at all of the neat stuff we have already found along the way."
That is the way it is in life sometimes. You have these really magnificent dreams that you work like crazy to achieve, but they just don't materialize. What we need to understand is that what is important in life is not so much in reaching our goal, but the really neat things we find along the way. It's not the end that is essential; it's the getting there that teaches us to embrace life. It is the process that enriches our lives and the lives of others, not the achievement of a goal.
Here is my take on all of this. You "shoot for the moon". Sometimes you hit it dead center, and then you have "A small step for man, a giant step for mankind". That's great! Sometimes you don't quite make it to the moon, but during the expedition you cover a lot of space. And in that process you become something new, something greater and something grander.
That's what life is all about!
Yours in Strength,