One day (out of nowhere!) I received a call telling me I was one of four people selected to get a chance of winning at least $1,000 – and up to $250,000. All I had to do was pitch to baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and get him out (with the help of the minor league St. Paul MN Saints) to win the 1K. Next, in order to win $250K, all I had to do was to be selected as the one contestant (out of the four) to attempt pitching a ball through a hole in some plywood! No problem or pressure – right?
I hadn’t played baseball for any teams, other than casual city youth leagues. I was also in my late 30’s at the time of this contest! I had a month to get ready. Fortunately, a neighbor had a backstop (something you could throw at and the ball would return) I could use for practice. I figured where the $250K winning hole would be, tied an orange ribbon at the spot, and started practicing. At first, I was happy just to hit the backstop. Then, through diligence and confidence, I improved every day. As the date for my appearance approached, I became pretty proficient hitting that orange ribbon.
The contest was held before a large crowd at a popular minor league game. Sure enough, out of the four (three that were in their early 20’s and pitched in town ball) I was first. Was I nervous? Certainly!
I threw four pitches; three (and I think four) hit the “orange ribbon”. The forth pitch was crafty; he grounded out to first. I won $1000 for athletic ability I didn’t realize I had!!! The other three pitched, then the selection of who would get the chance to throw a baseball through a one foot hole (something like that) to win $250,000. And…
Nope – I was not selected. But I still walked away with a nice prize for the evening, some merchandise from the sponsor, and some pretty good memories.
I accepted with gratitude the opportunity. I had a chance to “flaunt my stuff”. In this case, it was athletic. I certainly am nervous about asking for a raise, taking that jump into working for myself (which I have done), or making that investment in a house or stock, but I am willing to try. I asked for help. I practiced. In my case, I asked and received the tools needed. I prepared. I was diligent in my practicing. I not only improved my ability – but my confidence soared. I didn’t worry about failure. In my case, there were crowds not seeing the butterflies in my stomach, but I knew they were for me. By venturing into the uncomfortable, I still had support from my family, friends, and co-workers, people I didn’t know – and even financial professionals! In other areas of my life, I see the same support that helps to try the unknown. Above all – I was not afraid to hit that orange ribbon! Any fear I may have used to block me from trying something new and uncomfortable would have blocked me from trying something I was able to accomplish. I use this thought in all endeavors. Try anything. I know I can always move on to the next adventure – and venture.