Discovering the Positives in Adversity: In this episode, Coach Jason shares one of his ultimate success and fulfillment principles, OH WELL, a trigger that helps people discover the positives in any failure, adversity or setback. With never before shared stories of his own MLB career and personal life, you’ll be able to see step by step how this principle can be used to use failure for you–rather then against you.
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Discovering the Positives in Adversity
Episode 7, discovering the positives in any adversity, in any set back. If you haven’t listened to episode 1 yet, I suggest you go back and do that. I described briefly what the Full Force Life is there and how it came to be. I expand on what it is hopefully here in the near future. To give you a quick rundown, it’s about those times in our life where maybe we’re in transition or maybe we intentionally decide we want something different, something new and something better. We consciously choose a new vision for our lives. How life is going to be. Maybe we’re not quite there. We’re not that person who could live that life just yet. What I call living Full Force is when you align yourself with that vision; you align yourself with the exact beliefs. The beliefs on who you are, the beliefs in what’s most important, the values, the beliefs in what you are capable of. You get all those beliefs lined up with what it is that’s going to take to make this vision a reality. You train yourself, you condition, and you visualize whatever you need to do. You just start moving full force towards that vision.
When I talk about finding the positives in any adversity, any setback, any failure, really underneath that is actually a belief. You have to have first the belief that there is a positive in any adversity. What I think is interesting to know about beliefs is that any belief can be adopted. That’s the purpose of this show, to learn the beliefs of other people, whether it’s me or special guest on here. Find out what their beliefs are. I look back at these last two years and it’s amazing to me how my life has changed. Most of it is changed because of adopting new beliefs that serve me, that serve my path, that serve my journey towards this vision that I have created for myself and for my family. What’s really interesting to note about beliefs is usually the references, the experiences that we have that end up determining our beliefs, whether you have a good belief or a bad belief, usually we go through the same situations, the same thing happens. I learned that a lot with talking to people one on one. A person thinks they can’t do something after going through the same thing that a person thinks they can.
I think back to this unbelievable show I once watched, it was an episode of 60 Minutes years ago. It’s a great story about these identical twin brothers. The same DNA, grew up in the same house, same environment. The environment wasn’t good, alcoholic father and/or drug addict, abusive, terrible situation to grow up in. They’re doing this interview now, years later after they grew up and they’re in their 30’s. The one is decked out in a suit and tie. He is a successful businessman. Then here’s his twin brother giving his interview from prison as an inmate. They asked the inmate brother, they go, “Hey, how come your life turned out this way?” He goes, “How could it not? I grew up in this terrible environment. I was abused, all these terrible things happened to me. How can I live any other life but to follow those same footsteps?” They go and ask the other brother, the successful brother, “How did your life turned out this way?” He goes, “How could it not? I learned exactly what not to do my entire childhood.” The same environment, but they both chose, they made a decision, both made a decision at some point to create a different vision for their lives and a different set of belief systems around it.
When I talk about adopting beliefs, this idea that there is a positive for something that I was not born with either myself, something I really came to be at. I started slowly building this habit and training myself for it. About ten years ago in 2007, back then I was playing Triple-A ball with the Texas Rangers. I was in Oklahoma, City. I didn’t make Major League team out of Spring Trainings so they sent me back to Triple-A. After the first month, I was hitting about 150, which was not what I typically would hit. I was a little panicked, so I reached out and asked questions to different people. This idea, this concept of behind any result is a positive. I’m like, “Okay, okay. I’ll give it a try.” They suggested I keep a journal of my bats.
After every game I’d come in and I’ll see at that time there was a lot of 0 for 4 games. I look at these four bats, maybe there are a couple of strike outs, a weak ground ball, a lousy pop-up, something pretty unproductive. I would struck it down and I started looking pitch by pitch at these at-bats. I would notice, “There were some good swings. I ended up striking out but five of those pitches I did a great job. Five of the six pitches, I was successful.” I started doing that, I started writing, “That was a great at-bat, five out of six pitches, I did great.” I said now, “I’m not feeling bad because I’m 0 for 4. I had three great bats. I did twelve, thirteen great things that day.”
What it did was it helped me maintain my confidence, helped me to build confidence and build momentum towards my goals, even when I was not getting the results that I wanted. I have this other core belief in me that says, “Ultimately, the level of success, the level of fulfillment that you are going to reach is determined by how you handle failure.” Think about it. We are all going to have negative emotions from time to time. We’re all going to get sad. We’re going to angry. We’re going to get frustrated, especially when we don’t get the results, when life doesn’t happen the way we had hoped or the way had expected. How long are you going to stay there? Ten seconds? Ten minutes? Ten days? Ten months? Those little differences in time to me, in my opinion, is the difference between average, good, great, excellent and phenomenal.
This little habit of finding the positives in every at-bat, regardless of the result, started to build a serious momentum. Fast forward about three months into the season, I am now having the best season of my career at that point, hitting 320 on base, about 450 clip. We’re actually about ten days out from the end of July. For baseball fans, they know the end of July is the end of the Major League trade deadline. See at that point, even though happened was having the most phenomenal season of my career and had nothing left the prove at a Triple-A level, the Major League team for the Texas Rangers was stacked. They were loaded. They had all the outfielders they needed. They had the designated hitters they needed. There was no room to call me up.
Going into that last part of the month, there were some rumors and everyone were saying, “They’re going to make a trade and call you up. They’re going to call Bottsy up and have him play every single day for the next two months of the season at the Major League level. It’s kind of showcase, see if he can prove himself.” I’m jazzed, I’m excited. Anytime you hear that kind of comments or rumors in the organization, you’re excited. To have that happening when you’re playing your best baseball of your entire life, perfect timing. Ten days out now, I’m playing the outfield in Memphis, Tennessee against a Triple-A team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
I got a not so good read on a shallow pop-up, came running in and my bare hand, my finger got in the way of making the catch. I tore my finger nail off, cut the end of my finger. I had to go to the hospital that night, get three stitches and ended up breaking the tip of the finger as well. The doctor comes to me and the doctor goes, “You got to go on the disable list seven days automatically.” I’m like, “What? Not now. Why me? Why right now? This is the wrong time.” You want to get yourself in an ugly loop of bad thoughts, ask yourself a bunch of why questions. You can never answer a why question. The only thing maybe as bad or worse is a bunch of what if questions, and that’s where my brain went next. “What if I come back and my timing’s horrible, they don’t call me back up the last couple days before the deadline, they don’t make the trade? What if they make the trade, I come back, I played terrible, they call someone else up, they do good and there is no spot for me all over again? What if it takes me longer than ten days to come back healthy?” All these what-ifs, all I do is worry, I can’t control any of that.
After an hour or two of pretty ugly worry, I finally get back to the hotel room. I pull out that journal, unloading my stuff. I notice the journal. I still had a couple of at-bats at that game, I had to write it down on my journal. But I thought to myself, “Man, I know this idea of finding the positives in any result, I know it has been so huge for my career. Could it work in this situation? Could there be a positive for being hurt right now at the worse time?” Instead of asking why questions and what-if questions, I direct my focus and I go, “What’s the positive?” and right away, I was like, “I don’t play for the next seven days. I’m tired.”
I’ve been going hard. It’s a hundred games into the season. I haven’t missed a game yet. I’ve been getting on base for half the time. I’ve been having this great year. I’m running all over the place. I’m playing outfield every night. If I have the next seven days off, automatically I’m going to be rested and I’m going to be stronger with more energy the last two months this season. That’s a fact. I can’t argue with that. That’s a fact.
I started thinking to myself too, “How else could I use seven days of down time?” That was the first year that I got into the idea of visualizing, using it as a tool, seeing the results that I wanted in advance. I was like, “I’m having this tremendous success visualizing.” Five of at-bats every morning or right before I took the field. I was like, “I don’t got anything else going on during the game other than supporting my teammates, but I’m sure I could go sit down on the bench or go down below the tunnel and visualize another five at-bats. I could do that every top inning and every bottom inning? Visualize ten at-bats an inning for nine innings, 90 bats a day. I can change my mechanics, keep my timing going. Because that was biggest fear at that time was, “Man, if I lose my timing. It’s the best time I ever had. I don’t want to lose it.” When you’re called to the Major Leagues and I don’t have my timing. I’m going to do 90 at-bats.” not only do I keep my timing but I can improve my mechanics even more.
That was another idea. “I still have one good hand.” If you aren’t familiar with baseball, there’s something called one hand drills, where you can get a shortened at-bat and you just swing with one hand. I couldn’t hold the bat with my right hand, but I can still do it with my left hand. There were some mechanical issues that I could work on and improve every day. I get balls off at tee, have balls flipped to me or thrown to me, track pitches in the bullpen when other pitches are throwing. I could still work on my mechanics even though I’ve only got one hand. I was like, “There are three at least positives from this situation.”
Seven days go by and I’m healthy enough to play. I stepped in that batter’s box and I get a bunch of hits. My timing was just as great as it was before. A couple of days later, they make a trade. I get called up and I’m on a plane going to Cleveland to play the Indians. I just look back and see what an amazing thing that I did at that time. Have you ever been there, where you’re stressed and you’re worried, and you did it for days on days and it just drained you? Those seven days of what I consider to be a rest automatically, it could have not happened. If I would’ve felt bad or I would’ve felt angry or upset or frustrated, I could have drained my energy even further than where it was at that point in the year. I asked myself, “What’s the positive?” I changed my thinking and I found what I was looking for. When I started teaching this principle after telling the story for the first time, something hit me.
Another cool part of that story was when I came back to play, I was playing against a Triple-A team for the Padres from Portland. On that team was one of my really good friends, and his family had lived south in Fort Worth. He said, “All my family is going to be up there, driving up there three hours for the game. They’re going to come hang out, have dinner with me. Bottsy, would you like to come with us?” What’s really crazy about that time in my career was late in the summer like that, late in the season, I was all about baseball. I was all about being focused and doing my very best. I would save my energy up. But here I was, I had this last seven days off and I felt pretty good. I felt like I’d go hang out with my buddy and his family for a little bit. Another interesting part was back then, if I had an 0 for 4, I had 1 for 4, I would find the positives in it, but I wouldn’t want to go hang out with a bunch of people. I’d want to go home and get prepared for the next day. But I had this great game. I was like, “I’ll go out with you.”
Looking back on it, when I’m telling these stories, I think back, his sister was there. It was one of the really big nights in our future relationship and being in a future marriage and the two amazing sons that we made together. I don’t know if it would’ve happened if I didn’t have a good game. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I didn’t get rested from those seven days. Not only were these other positives that served me later in my career, but there was this bigger gift, this bigger blessing. I know some people might be thinking, “Wasn’t this the woman you said you ended up getting a divorce from? Wasn’t that painful? Wasn’t that future pain or future hurt?”
The interesting part of that story, I remember when I was teaching these principles, when I first moved out of the house, when we first got separated. I’m sitting on a hotel, one of the first nights. I’m feeling fully uncertain, scared, confused, but I remember thinking that there’s going to be a positive from this situation. There’s going to be a blessing. There’s going to be a gift. In fact, I looked up that night and I thanked for the gift. In fact many times over the next couple of months, when I was really hurt, I was in a lot of pain and I was unsure of what to do, I was just giving thanks for the gift that I knew that was going to come someday from it all.
I have a feeling that it’s all going to continue to grow and I’m going to get many gifts from it. I look at it now and see the tremendous gifts that time in Brandy’s life was and my life and for the boys. She and I, since we’re such good friends, we joke around, and we say, “We’re never meant to soul mates. We’re definitely soul twins though. We’re meant to be a part of each other lives. I don’t think there’s another person on this earth who would agree with the type of parenting, the type of standards and the type of vision that we have created for our two sons. The little men and the little leaders we want to grow them into. I know that we were brought together to create these two amazing children, Lincoln and Lenox.” I give thanks for that gift too. It’s only created a deeper belief in me that through tragedy, through real intense pain, not only is there going to be a positive but there’s probably going to be a bigger gift, a spiritual gift, a blessing.
I said beliefs can be adopted. One of the ways that I wanted you to increase your awareness, and I want you to remember this principle, this idea that there’s always a positive in any adversity, any setback. I want you to think of a koala. A koala is going to be our mental trigger. It’s going to speak to you at the times that you need. Subconsciously, your brain is going to let you know, “Hey, remember the koala.” I want you to think that this koala’s name is Oh Well. I was watching this video not that long ago, this koala was down on Australia, obviously, where koalas live. In this video, this koala is being filmed by a bunch of tourists on a canoe going down the stream. In the background, there’s this bush fire. On the edge of the river bank is a koala pacing back and forth. His home is on fire. Everything he knows is going down in-to ashes. Koalas aren’t swimmers, they don’t like to swim.
This poor koala, he’s running out of real state and he needs to escape the fire. He’s pacing back and forth over this river and all of a sudden, he has this moment where he just stands up a little taller and gets decisive, you can tell, and goes, “Oh well.” He goes straight to the water and starts swimming. He swims straight for the canoe full of tourists. The tourists reached down, they picked him up, put him in the bottom of the canoe. He’s just chilling. Then eventually, this koala, he goes up and sits in one of the tourist’s laps, riding downstream with a bunch of tourists. There’s going to be times in our life too where instead of saying, “Oh hell,” we’re going to be like the koala and just say, “Oh well.” When you think of a koala, most people think of a chill, calm, easy-going creature. When we have adversity, we have setbacks, we have failures, that’s how we need to be too.
I have a belief that says there’s going to be a positive in this. Maybe we can’t find it now, but it will be somewhere down the road. Maybe it will be a gift. The interesting thing about it is rarely do these positives, do these gifts, do they knock us upside the head? Meaning, rarely do they just happen without you searching for them. You’ve got to ask yourself the right questions, “What’s the positive? What did I learn from this? How could I grow from this? How could I use this?” It’s not just going to happen to you. It’s where you always talk to people about not living in reaction of your environment, not living in reaction of your circumstances, but to rise above it and to consciously choose intentionally how you’re going to respond, how you’re going to act, how you’re going to behave, about what you focus on. The koala, the principle of “Oh well,” the idea finding the positive, you’re only going to find the positive if you ask yourself, ask your brain to help you find the positive.
It makes me smile thinking back to one of very first sessions that I’ve ever had. I was working with a seventeen year old, maybe he was 18 at the time, baseball player, senior in high school. This young man, he was just about to be cleared to play baseball for his high school team in senior year. He had not played baseball in more than nine months. In fact, not only nine months that he was not able to play, but he almost lost his life after getting hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat. He suffered a pretty horrible brain injury. After getting to know him over our first session and hearing his story and hearing his road back and how challenging it was, basically, to rewire his brain just to be able to function at school and be able to get cleared and be back on a baseball field again.
I listened to his story and I taught him some of the things that I teach most young athletes at our first session. At the very end, standing with him and his father, I just looked at them both and I go, “So, what were the positives of the brain injury?” What were the positives in this setback, this adversity, this horrible tragic event? I was like, “I know they’re there.” I shared some of my stories and I said, “Maybe you are not aware of it yet, but there’s going to be a gift from this. But it’s only going to be there if you continue to ask yourself, you continue to seek it, you continue to find it.”
His father originally was pretty shocked when I asked that question. He got this big grin on his face. He’s like, “I’ve never even really put it together until right now, but when he got hurt and he was in the hospital and lot of tests that were done, they actually found this genetic abnormality that he had. We would never have found out about it unless he had gotten hurt, had his brain injury. This gene is going to lead to him having a very high risk of a heart attack or stroke. Now, because of this, we detected it, he is actually on special medication. There is no chance of that happening now. That’s a pretty big thing right there.” I just smiled, “There’s going to be a bigger one in the future. Go ahead and be thankful for that gift now.”
I got another friend here on Facebook, a guy who I am trying to get on the show here soon. He actually plays basketball. He travels the country, he’s on this team called Amp 1. It’s an amputee team. All the players on the team are missing one or two limbs of their legs, some with their arms as well. I was trading messages with this young man. I heard a little bit about his story and he’s like, “We travel the country. I meet all these kinds of cool people and all these great places. I make a difference, I make an impact.” He’s like, “Losing my leg was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” I’m like, “Dude, you need to be on my show.” I want to be around those types of people who see life that way.
I’m sure that the majority of you, as I told different stories, you thought about different times in your lives and maybe you’re reminded of the positives that came from it. Maybe that will serve you in the future. When something bad happens, you’ll remember just a little bit quicker that something good is going to happen from this.
At the very least, what I’d like you to do is to write down maybe two times in life where something happened and you have already lived this principle in the past, this idea of the koala and “Oh well,” and finding a positive in any adversity. Write down what happened and what were the good things that came from it. Then maybe, just maybe, there’s one that you’re like, “Jason, I do not agree with you. There was nothing positive that came from that situation.” I will just ask you to do one of maybe two things. Maybe spend a few minutes looking back, standing back a little bit further away from it now through time and ask yourself, “Maybe there was something positive.” If you can’t, I’d ask you to do something else, the second thing. Maybe you could act on faith and just believe that maybe somewhere down the road, maybe not until my days are gone on this planet, but I’ll find out that it was for my good, that it was a positive.
As always, feel free to either email me, text me, call me, send me a Facebook message, whatever it is. Let me know what your adversities, your setbacks, and the things you’ve done to overcome the beautiful posies. I know there are beautiful stories and I’m always interested in hearing more amazing stories. Until then, until next time, aim high, swing hard, smile often and live full force.