Deb Sofield

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Swing for the Fences

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Have you ever wanted to step up to the plate in baseball and swing for the fence—really give it your best shot, and watch as that proverbial ball sails over the back side of the stadium?

In life and work, sometimes I think to myself, “What would it take for me to swing hard and connect with the ball to put it over the fence so I can win the contract, take the audience to a new understanding of their freedom to thrive in life, or simply to know that I did something good for someone else?”

Dear listener, today, against all odds, I want you to think about swinging for the fence, and for once in a very long time have you do something that takes your energy, your breath and your time away for your success.

It is my opinion that too many people are happy to get up to bat and bunt, and while that may help others on the team to take a new base it doesn’t do much for you but send you back to the bench…since most players can take you out at 1st base.

I know, sometimes you have to “give one up for the team,” but what I don’t want to hear is that you’ve grown lazy, or comfortable or maybe even too fat (physically, mentally and emotionally) to even get up to bat. Ah, friend, take a look at the field and then swing with all your might for the fence…for you—yes, you! From what I can tell, you’ve done plenty for the team. In fact, some listening today have spent way too much time helping others and, while that is good, I’ve got to ask…what about you? What about your success for you personally or for your family? That deserves your powerful crack of the bat for the fence.

Trust me, others will take your time and talent and use you up to advance their career and—shocking, but true—many people do that for others instead of getting in the game for themselves and those they love and care for.

Think about it, you, finally taking the high-fives glory for the good things you’ve done.

I work with people all the time who tell me, “Well, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” to which I answer, “Why not?” If you did the work, why not say so? Let others know your value to the team, because if you don’t, guess what? Someone else will take the credit and be rewarded for it, and you’ll be crying in your beer and peanuts that no one knows your value and you’ll be right. That will get you far. Not!

Now listen, I’m all for helping others round the bases for the team for a while, but at some point you’re going to have to step up to the plate to show your value and strength and vision and initiative to hold your place on the team or they’ll find someone else. It happens every day.

As you might have gathered, I like baseball. I like any sport I can watch and talk with my friends about at the same time…and eat boiled peanuts and toss the shells. Yes, I’m Southern through and through, but what I really like is when the one person who no one really pays attention to on the team is up to bat, and no one is really watching with eagle eyes until we hear the crack of the bat and see the ball go flying up, up, up and then, as if on cue, we all stand and cheer. Really, we cheer for the ball to go over the fence, and then we adjust our sights to the forgotten player rounding the bases and watch the team come to the field to congratulate the home-run hitter.

Isn’t that like life? You feel like no one is paying attention, and then all of a sudden you realize that you better step up to the plate and give it your all. Really, some of you need to swing for the fences or you’re going to lose your marriage, your job, your kids or yourself. It’s a game you can’t afford to lose, my friend, and the good part is you know how this game is played. It’s America’s pastime! Everyone knows this game, but what I find interesting is that not everyone participates, and that’s the difference between success and failure—the difference between getting onto the field or sitting in the dugout, between memories of great games or vague remembrances of BBQ, hot dogs and cotton candy with only a ticket stub to remind you of the day.

So what will it take to convince you to get out of the dugout and put yourself on the field to live your best life ever?

I know you know the game, or at least the rules, but have you actually looked down the road and seen the outcome of your staying put and not putting yourself out there? Have you dared to take the time to see the future for what it really is and not what you’ve been told or led to believe by others who are sitting in the dugout away from the bright lights of the game? Do you even know where your bat and ball are?

I can tell you this—at some point before it is too late and you’re too old, too tired, too exhausted to round the bases, you might want to stop and consider a few things at this inning in your life:

  1. If your team, your family and friends aren’t going in the direction you know to be good, ah, friend, where is that going to leave you?
  2. If you can’t play the game because you are too tired, too broken, too lonely or hurt, you’re probably not going to be invited to the neighborhood pick-up game, much less the World Series, and that would be a shame.
  3. And if you consistently bunt or walk or foul-out and never muster the energy to swing for the fence, this game of life will be over before you know it, and then there will be no joy in Mudville, because mighty Casey has struck out…or, worse yet, never stepped up to the plate.

No doubt, it takes real courage and internal energy and belief in your ability to even step up to the plate of life, but, friend, consider the cost of what will you lose if you never give something your all…and I mean swing for the fence.

You know what that “something” is in your life, so how can I convince you to dust it off, pull out that old glove and bat, find your old uniform, put on your cleats and step onto the field? Here is what is interesting, when you finally do, you’re going to love the smell of the grass, the bright lights and the hot dogs and popcorn, and the muffled yelling of fans you forgot you had—people who have been watching you, simply waiting for you to get in gear and get going on what they knew you could do (whatever you put your mind to doing).

But you need to know that only happens in life when you give your best effort and not your best excuses.

Are you giving your best effort, or are your excuses so good you’ve gotten by for years sitting on the bench?

Let me hammer home my three thoughts for this show, and if your current team isn’t going in the direction of your dreams, where is that going to leave you and when will you decide to make a stand for your reputation, your future, your life and family? And by family I don’t just mean those you live with, but how about those who you work with, worship with and walk with in life? That family needs to see you move in the direction of your dreams even if you have to walk the bases alone without the drag of those who drag you down.

Listen, I know I sound harsh, even my friends sometimes say that I need to lighten up and let slackers be who they are, but I struggle with that thought because I see more for you. I can’t explain it, but I don’t think where you are right now is the best place for some of you. Now some today are fine. You’re on the right field in life, and you know your position, you’re playing it to the best of your ability and you are succeeding; I applaud you for that! I will be the one yelling batter, batter from the stands cheering for you to swing hard and put it over the green monster; it’s the rest of you reading my words today that I just don’t understand—your fear, your hesitation or your lack of self confidence.

Most of you who know me know that I had 4 older brothers growing up, and I can tell you that if I didn’t know a sport, they taught me, and I worked at it to be good enough to play with the big boys. That’s my drive, that’s my makeup, that’s just who I am, so I admit I don’t understand the fear of the unknown—it wasn’t an option for me. I was pushed to jump in and try, and I can tell you that I’ve won and I’ve lost but, most importantly, I learned how to play the game, and I don’t sit on the bench and neither should you.

If you can’t play the game because you are too tired, too broken, too lonely or hurt, you’re probably not going to be invited to the neighborhood pick-up game much less the World Series, and that would be a shame. Look at yourself—really take a look and see if you are who you want to be, and if you’re not, stop complaining; do something about it. Friend, you can change any time you want…the only thing holding you back is you. Make all the excuses you want, but you know I’m right and, for the record, I don’t want to be right. I want you to get going and get past your exhaustion, your brokenness, your loneliness and your hurt and see life for what it could be if you’d give your best effort and not your best excuses.

And, finally, if you consistently bunt or walk or foul-out and never muster the energy to swing for the fence, this game of life will be over before you know it, and then what legacy will you leave?

Most sports heroes are remembered for either extreme success or extreme failure, and what is interesting to me is that the reality is that many sports figures live a good life in the middle, never being overly famous, or over time they’re forgotten as the butt of all sports jokes. But what is to be admired is the simple fact that they got into the game and gave it their all—they would swing for the fence—and now they go down in history.

Ah, friend, swing for the fence! No more excuses. Just try. You’re going to love the feeling of the sting in your hands and arms as you watch (some for the first time in life) the ball sail over the fence…all because you stepped up to the plate and gave it your all.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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