Learning From a Step Back

Bad news!  Aidan, my son, is injured.  Baseball players of all ages, especially those that play at competitive levels, often suffer overuse injuries, and Aidan is no different.  After x-rays, an MRI and having been poked and prodded he’s been told to shutdown throwing for the rest of the season.  This is of course devastating for a teenage boy who lives to play baseball and desperately wants to contribute to his team.

As I attempt to teach my son life lessons, I look for how he can learn from this experience.  With my business twist, here’s my reflection.

Play the long game, be patient.
The road to recovery, including physical therapy, is slow and boring.  Anything worthwhile invariably takes time and patience but Aidan wants to play now!  In fact, he’s already tried to rush back pitching too early.  Unfortunately, that resulted in another visit to the doctor and what we expect now will be a longer recovery time. Sometimes to achieve your goals, slow and steady wins!  Taking time to identify and rectify areas of concern is strategic, not weak.

Listen to the pain.
This was our doctor’s advice.  While sports often require you to push your body, pain is not weakness.  It’s your body’s way of saying there’s a problem.  Some pain can be safely ignored, in fact soreness of the type you feel after a tough workout, for example, may even signal a benefit. Some pain however may be telling you there’s an issue, but even a veteran athlete may struggle to know the difference. Instead of pushing through the pain, listen.  Work with the experts to help uncover the message to determine if it’s something to push through or something that requires another doctor’s visit.  In anything you do ensure you are listening for the “pain”.  Are you meeting your short-term goals, your key performance indicators?  Don’t ignore these “pains”, instead make adjustments so they don’t become career ending. 

Appreciate and ask for help.
An injury or crisis can isolate you.  Instead use this moment to come up to breathe.  Look around, see the amazing support system surrounding you and recognize that those people still love you even though your baseball gear is hidden away right now.  We all have similar support systems in place, whether they are in our sporting or professional lives.

Do not let your injury define you.
Tough situations are not meant to break you, they are meant to make you. When an injury or a sudden situation throws you for a loop, it’s important to remember one thing: you are bigger than your circumstance. Most of the time teenagers, well anyone, will make a tough situation even tougher by thinking negatively and feeling sorry for themselves. Having the mindset that there are things more important than this short-term situation, and not having it negatively affect you is key. 

Take a step forward!
Similar, to not letting an injury define you, don’t let it get you upset or bitter.  It is certainly disappointing, but this so-called step back could be an opportunity to step forward in other ways.  Don’t stumble over self-pity or think about “what if”, take responsibility for your actions, and then use this time to reflect on the positive things you have accomplished. 

Previously I have told Aidan to “love the game”!  As I watch him go through this injury recovery process, my future advice when he finally steps back out onto the pitcher’s mound will be to “appreciate the game”! In the meantime, don’t let any injury, crisis or set back stop you from believing and growing.