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A Strong Foundation

A Strong Foundation

Getting cut from baseball was something I never saw coming. And looking back, I can see that it could’ve played out one of several ways.

First possibility: I could have dropped out of college and spent my days lying around the house with my five lazy roommates, eating a sick amount of pizza and getting really good at the video game RBI Baseball. My backup plan of moving back in with my parents and having my mom wash my tighty-whities didn’t sound so bad either. The passion had been knocked out of me, and there was seemingly nothing good that could fill its place.

Another possibility would’ve been to suck it up and get a part-time job to occupy my time — just a random job that I didn’t care too much about but that paid the bills. Sure, it would have meant giving up on my dreams, but at this point I would’ve resigned myself to barely getting by.

This option involved zero risk, and there’s something really appealing about not rising again after being hurt so profoundly. And although it didn’t sound as good as playing Nintendo all day, at least it would get me out of the house.

Another possibility would’ve been to use every instinct and skill I’d developed over the years, find a new passion, and then go for it. I’d get off of the couch and be okay with hanging up my cleats so that I could pursue something different. And even if this new direction was different from what I’d always dreamed about, I would refuse to quit. Sure, it took me a few months to get my head on straight, but I was resolved to figure this all out. I’m smart enough to know that when you put in the effort and find a new passion and get back on track, good things are bound to happen.

This last scenario is just about the way it turned out. I may have dipped my toes in options one and two, but option three was what all of those years prior had equipped me for. So instead of becoming chronically despondent or detached, I chose a different approach. It took everything inside of me to step up to the plate again, but I did it.

And then I gave it all I had.

Each and every year, as the smell of fresh-cut grass heralds the approach of springtime, baseball season commences, and all is right with the world. The very elements of the game, well known as America’s favorite pastime, bring me a certain nostalgia. I am an old soul, and the oldschool romanticism of the sport gets me every time. Now, any time I’m in the stands and tear open a bag of sunflower seeds, I can’t help but fall in love with the game all over again. But no matter how much I may love the game and the season, I’m always aware that they all must come to an end. In what feels like just a moment, the boys of summer go from being the big men on campus to passing the torch to the boys of fall — and just like that, it’s football season.

I have loved baseball as much as anyone, and the lessons it taught me have proved invaluable. But now, in the end, I know it is just a game.

I never, ever thought I would say this, but it’s the truth: if I could go back in time and have my life work out differently — not getting cut from the team, actually making it in baseball — I wouldn’t do it. I might still fantasize about what that life could have been like, but ultimately I know that God’s plan B has been infinitely greater than my plan A ever could have been.

And by the way, my dad was right — every moment of practice was worth it. None of the passion I invested in baseball turned out to be wasted. Moving on to plan B was hard work, to be sure. And I had to relearn what it meant to never quit. But the twenty-one years of my life that I spent pursuing baseball taught me the very things I draw upon in my work today. The discipline I learned on the field helped give me the drive to do whatever it takes to keep building.

Before anything worthwhile can be built, it needs a strong foundation. I believe each life lesson and every opportunity is a building block on which future experiences are built. And that’s definitely true of my life in baseball. I’m confident that I wouldn’t have been a successful entrepreneur if it weren’t for the things I learned in baseball. It was under those bright lights that grit and scrappy became part of my nature, and fortitude became part of the fiber of my being.

I believed the baseball field was the perfect place to train me as a baseball player, but it turned out to be the perfect training ground for life as an entrepreneur.

That can be true for you too, no matter what your passion is. Every ounce of energy you invest in pursuing your goals will help you grow toward God’s plan for you… even if you end up somewhere you hadn’t counted on.

I can’t promise you there won’t be any curveballs in your life. But I’m positive that if you do the hard work and never quit — and pick yourself up when things go sideways — good things will be waiting on the other side.

Excerpted with permission from Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines. Copyright Chip Gaines.

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Your Turn

What broken dream in your life might just have been the training ground for what God has in store for you next? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!