Have you ever been disappointed? I know I have. I’ve been disappointed by people, situations, sports teams and well, just about everything at one point or another. I have to be honest, I don’t handle disappointment very well. In fact, in the past, disappointment has had the ability to stop me dead in my tracks. How about you?
One thing that I have learned to be true is that at one point or another we will all face disappointment. What sets apart the good from the great is how the great handle that disappointment.
Lately, I have become obsessed with late night watching of documentaries about people or whole organizations. There is a series that I found on Netflix that was produced by ESPN called “30 for 30”. These short films dive into the stories behind great athletes and public sports figures. Most of them are extremely well done.
One of my favorite “30 for 30” stories was about Michael Jordan. No, not Michael
Jordan the as an incredible basketball player, Michael Jordan the “want to be” baseball player. If you remember the story, Michael Jordan’s Dad was killed. After his death, MJ decided to retire from basketball and pursue a career in baseball. Like most rookies, he started in the minor leagues.
The critics had a field day with him. They said he was making a mockery of the game, they said that he had no business trying to play baseball and that he should give up. Each time he struck out, his critics cheered. None of the baseball purists wanted to see him succeed.
For MJ’s part, he was a good teammate, he wanted no special treatment and he wanted to start at the bottom. He wanted to “earn it”, ONLY if he was good enough. In the beginning of the season, opposing pitchers learned that MJ couldn’t hit a curve ball, so of course, that is what they kept pitching him. One curve ball after another. MJ’s batting average was poor about .200 (meaning he was failing 8 out of every 10 attempts). His strike outs were mounting. In fact, he struck out 1 out of every 4 attempts!
Was he disappointed? You bet he was. But it was then that I saw what the great do with disappointment. They turn it into fuel which fires their passion for success. As MJ’s story goes, instead of hanging it up and realizing that he was no good, MJ went to work. He arrived early in the morning each day and worked on his hitting for a few hours before the game, hours before his teammates would arrive. Then after the game, he would stay for a few more hours and work on his stroke again. By the end of the summer, MJ even hit a few balls out of the park!
In the fall league, MJ improved his batting average to .250 a HUGE improvement in the baseball world! By the time the fall league started, MJ’s work ethic and progress earned him the respect of his teammates, coaches and even his critics. At the end of the season MJ decided to end his baseball career. When he left, many of the same critics who said he was making a mockery of the game, believed that if he had continued to keep playing baseball, he would have been good enough to make it to the Major leagues the following year! As it turned out, instead of continuing to play baseball, MJ went on to lead the Chicago Bulls to 3 more NBA Championships!
For me, MJ’s story reminds me that if you want something bad enough, there will be critics and disappointment along the way. However if you want it bad enough, let no one or nothing stop you. Not the critics, not a lack of skills, not your own disappointment. You can only control what you can control and that is you. Your thoughts, your efforts, your desire, your actions. And finally, even if what you want to do doesn’t work out, but you gave it all you had, you may just find that the success you had been searching for was just around the corner.
Have a great day!