“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”
Wow! Sometimes a statistic just knocks my socks off. Here’s a number that may not mean much to you, but it means a lot to newly voted Hall of Famer and great catcher Mike Piazza: 1390. Why, because according to my friend and mentor Coach Mike Tully (TotalGamePlan.com), Mike was the 1390th draft pick in the year he started playing professional baseball.
What does this mean, exactly? As Coach Tully explained, it means that Mike was the 1390th player picked to be on a team. Which means that there were 1389 baseball players ahead of him who looked like better prospects than he was at the time he was drafted. In fact, he was picked on the 62nd round — most of the teams participating had already packed up and gone home!
Put yourself in this guy’s shoes for a minute: Poor Mike, just a hopeful kid back then, had to sit around for round after round watching hundreds of players picked before he was. And yet, only 10 percent of those drafted along with Mike ever made it into the major leagues — and only a handful had storied careers and even fewer eventually became Baseball Hall of Famers.
Think about the massive number of coaches, scouts, interviews, videotapes, and statistics floating around — and yet none of these tools and all these experts could predict that someone like Mike, chosen from the bottom of the draft barrel, would become a beloved and legendary player. What was it they missed? His raw talent? His persistence? His work ethic? His drive and passion? His heart? Who knows? But whatever it was, it was something huge — something that defied statistics and categories and flow charts.
So what’s our takeaway here? I think it’s this: Let’s not worry about the experts and all the opinions floating out there about what it takes to succeed as a writer — who you have to know, what you should be writing about, how you should tell your story. Because there’s only one person with the heart and relentless hankering to tell the story you want to tell — and that’s you. And no one can do it better than you can.
What really matters is what you can bring to the party. Mike Piazza had the emotional stamina and the belief in himself to stay in the game while hundreds and hundreds of people were drafted before he was. And once he got his chance, he seized it with both hands. Can we do he same? Why not?
On his wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690), my good friend and mentor Rob Gilbert is fond of saying that you can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed. How true this is — and how inspiring! Write on.