USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
Do yourself two favors: first, read this interview featuring former big leaguer and current MLB Network analyst, Eric Byrnes. From his definition of leadership, to accomplishing your goals, what he has to say goes well beyond the playing field. And second, get to know Eric Byrnes. I don’t care if you Google him, look up him up on Instagram and Twitter, or watch for him on the MLB Network. Do what you need to do to find this guy. Because, I can promise you this, knowing Eric Byrnes is going to change your outlook on life! Oh, and if you ever get the awesome opportunity to chat with Eric, ask him about charging a second baseman!
Q: Talk to me about your definition of leadership.
A: So many people out there will tell you what to do. They’ll tell you how to live and give you a map on how you’re supposed to go about your business. And a lot of the times, what they tell you can be good advice. But for me, I need more than that. I want to see through your actions, how it’s done. Show me what to do with how you live. I’m not interested in following someone if they’re not leading by example. Just be authentic. Life is so much better that way and you’ll have no greater impact on the people, and the world around you, when you do things authentically. I have this energy and passion for what I do, because I want to show, not tell. Isn’t that what true leadership is all about?
Q: What is the key to accomplishing your goals?
A: Don’t ever let someone tell you no or that it’s not possible. Stay in control of the things you can control and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I think a lot of people go wrong in the process of pursuing their dreams, or their goals, because they become so consumed with the ultimate destination. It’s like they forget that there’s a process to achieving that goal and they get distracted. I think the key to success is being able to live free in the moment and embracing exactly where you’re at, on your way to that destination. Understand that it’s going to be uncomfortable at times and you will absolutely experience setbacks. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, move forward, and love the moment you’re in.
Q: For the young athlete doubting his or her abilities, what is your advice?
A: Be your best. Don’t worry about being the best, worry about being your best. Amor fati is an old Stoic philosophy that means “love your fate”. I think that could be applied perfectly here. No matter what happens, love everything that happens to you. Find the positive in everything and use it as a stepping stone for what comes next. Because here’s the deal, results are rarely something you control. You can control your attitude and you can control your effort. And as much as you can control the execution, you don’t control the results. I remember my last at-bat of the 2004 season against Troy Percival. Literally, the result of my at-bat determined whether we were going to the playoffs, or the Angels were going. Well, I hit a ball as hard as I could hit it. I thought it was gone and the ball seemingly came back into the park and was caught. Season over. My point is even when you execute perfectly, you don’t always get the result you want. And, that’s ok! Just use your setbacks and failures to propel your growth in whatever it is you’re doing.
Q: What advice to you have for parents of student-athletes wanting to play at the next level?
A: It’s not up to you. It’s up to your kid. You can push them into whatever you want. But whether they fulfill their ultimate potential has nothing to do with how badly you want it. It has everything to do with how badly they want it. The great Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Think about that. No matter how much you try to motivate your child, it’s pointless. If your son or daughter is going to be great at something, it’s going to be internal self-motivation that gets them there. Listen, my dad was a 4th degree black belt in Karate and my mom was an avid tennis player. That’s what I grew up doing. But, somewhere along the way I found football, baseball and basketball and I fell in love with team sports. I discovered what I really loved. And, my parents supporting me and letting me find my own path was the greatest gift they ever gave me.