Build It: The Key to Executing Your Goals
This past Saturday night I had the incredible opportunity to speak to the University of Louisiana-Monroe softball program at their "HAHA Night with the Hawks" fundraising event. It was an amazing night and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to be at the event and support a program that is working to make a name for itself in college softball. They are building something special. I think a lot of people are trying to build something in their life. For ULM, it's building their program; for me, it is building my dream of being an Olympic Gold Medalist; for you, it might be building your career or a culture within your team or organization. That's why I decided to speak to them about what it takes to build something and why I am sharing it with you now. It is something that is relatable and real, something that we can all implement in our every day lives, but what it actually takes in my opinion might surprise you.
There are three things that I believe it takes to build a firm foundation, the first is VISION. We have to figuratively SEE where we are going. I am a product of a firm foundation that was built. 20 years ago when Coach Murphy and Alabama Softball were building their team, I have to believe that they saw players and people like me being able to have opportunities to impact others years down the road. I walk down a path that players like Kelly Kretschman and others put down. The same applies to you. If we want to build something that lasts, we have to have a vision that is long-term, with everything working towards that vision. What do you want players that come through your program or organization standing on 10-20 years from now? Selflessness, Work Ethic, Relentlessness, Positivity? Visualize it. Execute it. Begin with the end in mind.
The next thing that it takes to build something is WORK. This is just common sense. If I want to build something and lay a foundation, it is going to take work. Rome wasn't built in a day and it definitely wasn't built by folks staying up to date with the latest Netflix series. Put your head down and go to work. Work hard, but work smart. Having the vision is easy. Working towards that is simply logical. But if we obsess over this vision and we are overwhelmed with the work that it requires we will simply run out of steam. We cannot sustain what we have built. The biggest two assets you can have are your availability and sustainability. That’s why I think that third component of building something strong and special is REST.
Rest. Wait... Rest? I know. It sounded weird to me too. You have to understand that my competitive nature pushes me to outwork everyone else. I want to be the first one in and the last one out. I want extra reps. I want to consistently work towards mastering my craft, which is this game. I think a lot of athletes, especially females, think that more work is always the answer, but if we don't rest it is impossible to sustain all the work that we actually put in. You need to be your best, so you need to rest. We need balance. We need peace. We need our minds and our bodies to be fresh so we can consistently show up and perform at our best. That way, people 20 years from now can stand on our shoulders and succeed. Leave a legacy.
You're probably thinking right now, "Haylie, that's cool and all but how on earth am I supposed to rest? I have to be successful now. I have to grind. I have all this stuff on my plate and all these goals I want to accomplish." I hear you, I have Olympic Trials in literally two weeks as I type this out. Trust me. You can do it. There are 4 ways that I have been able to find rest throughout this entire softball journey and I'd like to share them with you.
PERSPECTIVE. I travel a lot with the national team and I also drive a lot of places as well. I like to travel. And I already told you I was relentlessly competitive, so when I drive a car the worst thing that can happen is a traffic jam. I feel impatient, irritated, and anxious. I can’t see that far in front of me and I am FRUSTRATED to no end. I’m losing. I’m supposed to be making it here at this time and now I’m losing. But, something happens to me every time I fly instead of drive. I'll occasionally see a traffic jam outside my window seat on the plane and I will almost always laugh. Why? Because my perspective is higher and I know and I can see when the traffic jam ends. But when I’m in the car, I can’t see, I don’t know, I assume the worst and feel defeated. I wonder if some pushback you face when you’re overwhelmed trying to build this thing or trying to produce success on the field if you just need to elevate your perspective. Allow yourself to see the big picture and rest your mind and your spirit. Be grateful. The traffic jam is coming to an end soon, but lift your mind to see the beauty around you, the ocean, the mountains, the green grass. There are a million ways to see any given situation. Make your perspective the positive. Everything is always working out for your benefit.
PASSIONS. What do you love? What else sets your heart on fire besides this game? We actively need an escape from softball. Come on, we all know those crazy ballpark parents that are just too much. As soon as you read that you immediately had someone pop into your head. Maybe even yourself. But what happens to the kids of those overwhelming sports parents? They burn out. They quit. They give up because the pressure just gets to be too much. What will happen to your product, your building, your foundation if it just burns out? Don’t you want to build something that’s sustainable, long-lasting, that leaves a legacy? That’s why we need to rest from it. We need to step back, so we can step up. Find other things in your life that you love in order to maintain our joy that comes in building your dreams from the ground up. If we escape, we can sustain. It will produce a peace in us. It could be writing, reading, another sport, volunteering for a non-profit, even a job, whatever sets your soul on fire. Get away, renew, and reset yourself so you can be better in the long run.
PEOPLE. This goes both ways. There are people that you need to hold on extremely tight to and people you need to let go of. Phone a friend. Call somebody. Go on a date with your spouse for crying out loud. People, our tribe, the people we choose to do life with can refresh us and inspire us and make us feel like the work that we are doing matters, but check your circle. If they aren’t unconditionally cheering you on and relentlessly supporting you, let them go and realize that that is perfectly okay. You are going somewhere and toxic people produce toxic thoughts that do nothing but hold us back. Know who is in your corner. If I’m tired or overwhelmed I have my brothers to make me laugh, I have a fiancé that is my biggest fan, I have old teammates that I can just vent to if I pick up the phone. Don’t do it alone. You weren’t designed to.
PACE. The last thing that produces rest in us and I think arguably might be the most important is our pace. How fast are we moving through this? How fast are you trying to build this dream of yours? All good things take time, we MUST be patient. I think there is a rhythm of life. Do you love music? Most people do. We love music because there is a designated beat that we can just dance to. We can easily anticipate what is coming next if we pick up on the rhythm, but if the beat is too fast and you're trying to dance, you are going to get so lost. There’s a pace and a rhythm in life and often when we get overwhelmed it’s really that we just are not in the rhythm that we are supposed to be in. We try to rush things. Trust the process. Trust the pace that we are going, although it may feel slow, it is smoother and it is longer lasting, it will endure and produce something great in it’s due time. Slow and steady might frustrate you at times, but it wins the race. Stay positive in your pace.
I want to tell you a quick story that I found pretty interesting. And we are talking about building something right? We have to have the vision and the faith in the vision to build it, we have to work to build it, and I believe we have to rest to build it and ultimately sustain it. Arguably, the most incredible thing ever built was the Titanic, but it didn’t make it to where it was supposed to go. It didn’t fulfill it’s potential. It changed lives forever in a terrible manner. There was a news story that came out a week or so back saying that divers had gone back to the spot in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean where the Titanic lies. It’s eroding and continuing to get broken down by the sea, but there were articles circulating around about why the Titanic sank, what caused it, and how it all happened. Me, being the nerd that I am, got deep into the Twitterverse about The Titanic, why it sank, and if that event in 1912 could have been prevented. There were a number of factors that led to it's sinking, but two really stood out to me.
Poor building materials.
Fire in the bunker that couldn't be controlled.
The Titanic was built and it was HUGE, but the quality of the structure didn’t hold up. It wasn’t genuine. It didn’t have a good foundation. The workers worked day and night, relentlessly I am sure, but it didn’t matter because they didn’t take the time, or find it a priority, to ensure that what they were building would be sustainable. They built this ship so they could get praise and credit. It wasn’t genuine. I wonder if those in charge would have had the perspective to say our ship’s purpose is to carry people across water, I wonder if they had passions to try to escape the pressure of building something so gigantic if it would have kept them logical and reasonable when picking materials, and I wonder if they would have had people in their life to steer them in the right direction.. I wonder if the ship would have been stronger.
The Titanic’s engine was also run by burning coal. Many scientists have argued that the fire in the engine room got too big, forcing the ship to increase it’s speed and move at a faster.. pace than it was designed for. Those running the ship could not gain control of the fire to slow the ship down and you know the rest. The ship could not get out of the way of the iceberg and it ultimately sank. I wonder if the crew would have been able to handle the fire thrown at them, if they could have handled a problem, and slowed the pace down, I wonder if the ship would have survived the trip across the ocean.
You are building your Titanic. Your life, your goals, that is your Titanic. My hope is that you build it with the highest of quality materials. A vision, a work ethic like no other, but the rest and relaxation that what you are doing is genuine and sustainable through things like perspective, passion, and people. I hope that you stay resilient when the fire comes your way because it will. You tame the flames and keep your steady pace. Trust that your pain has a purpose, there is a meaning your mess, and reason for your rejection along the way. I know that one day, somebody can look back on the foundation that you laid wherever you are and say, "I made it, I did this because of what they did. I am who I am because of who they are."
Build your life. Leave a legacy.