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Beating the Odds

How Much of Your Future Can You Control?

The other day on TV, a baseball expert used the phrase “projectable body” to describe a player taken in the recent draft. By “projectable body,” the expert meant a body that, while not yet developed, will likely grow to become what’s needed in the big leagues.

That’s what the draft is all about. It’s not about today; it’s about the future. In picking players, the teams try to “project” what the athlete will deliver three, five, 10 years down the road. As with picking stocks, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Sometimes the picks are correct. Most often they are not; players either fall short of or surpass the expectations.

I recall seeing Derek Jeter shortly after he was drafted by the New York Yankees. Jeter was playing for Greensboro in a Single A league, at or near the bottom of pro baseball. Back then, he did not even know the proper footwork for taking a throw from the outfield and tagging a runner.

At that time, would anyone — even the people who drafted him — have projected Jeter as the player he has become? A Hall of Famer? Probably not. Few people could have foreseen his blend of focus and determination.

Which raises the question: Are projections controllable? In other words, do teams merely make their picks and see how they turn out years later? Or can the teams affect how things turn out? If so, how much?

First, let’s recall the mantra of peak performers — control what you can. What can teams control about their picks? They can control to which minor-league team the players will be assigned. They can control who is managing and coaching those teams. They can control the quality of instruction. What they can’t control is what the player will do with the feedback.

What else is controllable? Players can control how well they take care of themselves. They can control what they eat, how much sleep they get, what time they get to the ballpark, and what they do when they get there. They can control their decisions. Brien Taylor, a left-handed pitcher with a legendary arm, hurt that arm in a fight, and never reached the big leagues. Some people call Taylor the best pitching project the Yankees ever had, but one decision ruined his career.

In conclusion, it seems that people can control a lot more of their fate than they think. Your destiny comes down, in large part, to the day-to-day decisions that you make. Do outside factors influence your life? Absolutely. But if you can make it your business to control what you can control, you will be a champion.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here. You can follow Coach Tully on Twitter at coachtully@twitter.com


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