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Let the Hard Times Roll

Traveling in London

Does the name James Anthony Abbott sound familiar to you? How about Jim Abbott? He is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. What makes him inspiring is the fact that he was only born with a left hand. That’s right, he was born without a right hand, although he does have his arm. He played Major League Baseball for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and the Milwaukee Brewers. His career spanned for ten seasons in the late 80s to the late 90s. Baseball as you all may know, is a sport that generally requires both hands due to the catching and throwing of a baseball. Jim Abbott showed the world that the lack of a hand doesn’t keep you out of the sport. To catch and throw with his one hand, he would switch his glove quickly to the other hand. Other teams knew of his lack of a hand and tried to use it against him on the field. The teams were never able to use Abbott’s disadvantage against him.

What I find most inspiring about Jim Abbott is that he never let it get the best of him. He struggled, as I am sure many athletes do, but he never let this deter his career. He had a rough year in the mid 90s and briefly retired, but he came back stronger than ever for the next few years only to retire in 1999. Abbott is now a motivational speaker, telling people his story. To let others know that they can to, achieve their goals and dreams. That a disadvantage may not be a disadvantage at all. Maybe it made him train harder or become more focused on what he wanted to achieve. Batting was never an issue because the American League uses a designated hitter. That is a player who does not hold a playing position, this player’s only job is to bat for the pitcher and only the pitcher.

It is truly inspiring to know that a Major League Baseball player had such a remarkable career. When people compete in the Paralympics, they go against others similar to them. Jim Abbott overcame an obstacle and competed at the same level as players with both hands!

Many people go through struggles. It isn’t always as dramatic as having one hand, but few have a golden path to their dreams. Some athletes come from very rough childhoods, ones that seem so tragic that it’s almost unfair to them. Ignoring it all, the only thing that matters is the sport. To be so passionate about something that nothing was going to stand in the way of their dreams. To be able to make a career out of something you love, is everyone’s dream. Growing up people always tell you to find something you love and turn that into a career. If you like video games, become a video game creator. If you like woodworking, be a carpenter.

When they are on that field, the noise is silence. They don’t hear the screaming fans, it’s just them. This is the moment they’ve waited for, the moment they’ve trained for, to lay it all out for everyone to see.

To make it more rewarding is to prove people wrong. I’m sure many people told Abbott that he would not be playing Major League Baseball, but he proved them very wrong. Even when teams would try and expose his single hand by bunting, he figured out how to still throw the runner out. Many teams tried and failed.

The takeaway…

Be who you want to be.

Be inspiring for yourself. Think about when you were a small child and think about what you would want other people to have told you as a kid. Nobody wants to crush the dreams of a child, so why crush them as an adult? What would you tell your childhood self, more likely than not you’ll tell yourself to keep pushing. Things get better, train harder. Even if you are in the top tier, you don’t stay there by slacking, you keep going. If you’re on the top, but stop working for it, then someone on the bottom will surpass you. Don’t get too comfortable, break through your comfort zones to be better than the ones who got too cozy in their standings. Think about Jim Abbott, to be part of the MLB is no easy task. He had to out rank many athletes who did not have the same disadvantages as him. These were never disadvantages and they are actually advantages. Made him train harder than the others, especially those who doubted him.

You encourage yourself and others that this is not where you end. There is always room for improvement regardless if you’re an athlete or not. If you are an athlete that holds a record, treat yourself like a competitor, try to beat your own record. If you’re not an athlete, you can still try to break your record. How many squats can you do? How much can you lift? There is always a way to push yourself to be better than you were last week. Don’t be stagnant.

Those who stand still do not move forward.

They don’t go backwards either, but if everyone takes steps forward then you’ll eventually be in the back. Chase your dreams, just go for it. There is nothing to lose.