I believe that baseball is the greatest sport ever invented and that is not a biased opinion…it’s just the truth.

Think about it.

What sport gives the defense the ball and the greatest players that ever lived failed seven times out of ten. If you play in the major leagues and bat over .300 in a career, you are headed to the Hall of Fame, no questions asked. Baseball has always played a major factor in my life and up until I was about 20 years old, I pretty much woke up out of bed every morning with one goal in mind, get better at the game. Like 99.9% of you, that improvement stops at some point, and you have to transition the lessons that were learned in that sport to real life.

I watched my second son make that transition this week. He’s always been one of the hardest working kids I have ever seen and that helped him tremendously in a sport that challenges you to put a two inch round barreled bat perfectly against a three-inch round ball coming at you at speeds that far surpass the speed limit on highways. Combine that fun task with an average pitcher that can change speeds and movements each pitch while releasing the ball high on a mound just sixty feet away, and now you understand why golf is easy.

For the last 14 years, my son has lived his baseball dream and our family has followed him to just about every dirt town in the Midwest. It came to an end this week in the state tournament, an event that just eight teams out of a few hundred get to attend.

I knew it would end one day.

My son knew it would end one day.

Despite that knowledge, when the final out occurred, during the final game of his senior season, it was tough.

As you would expect, my son doesn’t care much that I train and speak on leadership around the country and I would have to pay him to listen to me for more than a few minutes but in the aftermath of what is surely a huge event at this point in his life, I explained to him why he spent years working hard to get better and why, we as parents, spent countless days and nights away from home eating cheap nachos at baseball fields. It certainly wasn’t; because we were mentoring the next Ted Williams or for that chance to get that college “offer” that means you still have to pay for 90% of college…

The Final Out During The Final Game

Before I tell you what I told him, that advice does not just apply to athletes or kids, but it applies to each of us as we journey through this thing called life.

Life is about beginnings and endings.

That’s how it was always supposed to be. We are on a constant journey of transition. It may be high school to college or officer to sergeant. It could be a 30-year law enforcement career to another job or retirement all together.

Regardless of what that transition is, we all must do certain things to be successful.

First, we must take everything we learned from the experience and use it in the next. For a sport, it may be the mental aspect of defeat and learning how to overcome the ups and downs in life. For a job it may be learning from your mistakes and understanding that what worked then may not work now.

Transitions in life should make us better and stronger to tackle the next chapter.

Secondly, we only have a finite amount of time to do what we are currently doing. My son ended his career as a senior, but he could have had an injury a year earlier. You may be thinking that that you are going to retire on that 25th year, throw a big party and ride into the sunset, but we don’t control everything in life and your career could end today.

We must savior every moment we get the awesome privilege to do what we do.

 Finally and I believe most importantly, you may leave one season in life and go to another, but your legacy remains. Someone is now playing that same position or working in your position after you leave and we must ensure that what we stood for and what we fought for, is caught by the next person. Your relationships, your integrity and your work ethic don’t just walk out the door with you. They were seen by others and if you were successful, they will be modeled by others.

Nothing we do in life is alone. We stand on the shoulders of the giants before us, and future generations will need to stand on yours.

Now go lead!

Travis Yates is the author of “The Courageous Police Leader.” His training events along with additional resources can be located at: www.travisyates.org