Do Your Job or Hang Them Up: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Memories to Live By
Bottom of the 6th inning of a seven inning high school baseball game. The year was 1965.
Standing on the mound that day I was feeling pretty full of myself. My team was ahead 2-1. I had given up three meaningless hits, and after I dispensed of the boys from O’Dea High School with four more outs I could go home to adulation and a well-deserved cheeseburger dinner.
Four more outs! I had been sawing off bats all afternoon, painting the corners, changing speeds, leaving my opposition fairly helpless in their attempt to get to me. The lone run was unearned, the result of a booted grounder by our shortstop.
A runner on first, he of the broken-bat single to right, and two outs in the inning. Two balls, two strikes and damn I felt good about myself…..and then….
Knuckleball, outside corner, another broken bat and a weak groundball to the right of the pitcher’s mound…I started after it, realized the 1st baseman had it and then….for some inexplicable reason….I did not cover first base to take the throw and the runner was safe. A simple play I had practiced hundreds of times and suddenly I had a brain fart.
No harm…..the next batter popped out to right field and I walked into the dugout still ahead 2-1.
Someone, however, failed to mention to my coach that there was no harm done. He was livid with me for not doing my job. In fact, he was so livid he told me to hang up my cleats, that if I couldn’t do my job properly I had no business being on the field. He pulled me from the game, put a relief pitcher in, a pitcher who promptly gave up two runs in the 7th inning, and we lost the game.
The bus ride home was one of the longest of my life.
“Do your job, Holland, or get the hell off of the field.”
I would love to tell you that I was not bitter by the time I got home, but that would be a bald-faced lie. I was seething and I told my dad so over dinner, and you can just imagine the sympathy I got from old man Holland.
“Bill, lesson learned. I’ll bet you cover first base the next time that happens.”
Yessir, Dad, I sure did!
What is it about some lessons that last a lifetime? Are they the ones that are associated with intense emotions, whether it be hate, elation, grief or heartbreak, or do our brains just randomly select some lessons as keepers while discarding the insignificant?
This particular lesson has stayed with me now for almost fifty years, along with my bitterness over Coach Michael pulling me from the game. J
Do your job or hang them up!
Sit with me awhile
At Work, at Play
Mediocrity is for the uninspired and yes, you can quote me on that. Mediocrity serves best those whose myopic view of the future consists of what’s on television tonight, or when is the next paycheck, or what do I get out of this?
You will not find mediocrity in the vocabulary of those who have a vision and/or plan for the future. They understand that all things in life are connected, that any single act will have repercussions and that there is a direct correlation between cause and effect. In other words, a job poorly done will sprout seeds, and those seeds will grow until one day the personal garden is overrun by an invasive species that chokes out creativity, motivation and culpability. It is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
Said another way, what you reap you will eventually sow.
Now that I am rapidly approaching my sixty-fifth year, I find myself in a reflective mood quite often, and those reflections will turn, from time to time, to lessons learned during my lifetime and the source of those lessons.
I can remember clearly neighborhood “pick-up” games, where a bunch of us kids got together, chose up teams and played a “friendly” game of football, basketball, baseball or whatever. I intentionally put the word friendly in quotation marks because those games were anything but friendly. Few games ended without cuts, scrapes and bruises as our competitive natures demanded that we play “balls out” with everything we had. Competitive for sure but also a deep-seeded desire to be the best we could be in every sporting event.
That kind of fire carries over and becomes ingrained in you after a few decades. I have no idea how many jobs I have held during my lifetime. I would venture to guess at least twenty-five, and I can say with conviction and certainty that I approached each job with the same determination as I approached those Saturday afternoon games. Either do the job, Bill, and do it well, or hang them up!
I am, quite frankly, blown away by the number of people who complain about their jobs, and give less than 100% because they believe they deserve something better.
Allow me to present you with a universal and timeless truth: nobody owes you a thing. In today’s economy, if you are not happy with that job there are quite a few people who would be more than happy to take it from you.
Either do the job or hang them up!
But what of the recognition you feel you deserve? What of the rewards that you are due? What of the higher pay surely you should receive and the bonuses and the tips and the benefits you do not receive but certainly should have?
Find personal satisfaction in the knowledge that you are doing the best you can. Find a quiet spot inside of yourself where you can pat yourself on the back and know you are facing a tough situation and facing it with style and strong character. Know that kismet is real, and if you do not receive what you are due today, you will at least have a strong work ethic and solid reputation upon which you can build for the future.
The Ultimate Challenge for All Humans
Suffering the slings and arrows of daily life, we all struggle. Life is not easy and I don’t care if your name is Kardashian or Kreinstein, the truth is that we all face challenges that will test the strongest among us.
Temptations surround us, calling us to take the easy way out, calling us to diminish ourselves just a bit, hedge our bets just a little, do a little less than is required or expected…..but….every time we cut corners we are cutting off a piece of what makes us special. We were born with greater gifts than any creature on earth. We were born to soar with the angels and to demonstrate the luminous qualities of humanity.
And every single day we can choose to rise to our unlimited potential or trudge at a level so demeaning as to define us as less than human.
We can choose to be uncaring or to be compassionate.
We can choose to be helpful or be selfish.
We can choose to give a damn about others or give a damn only for ourselves.
Yes, we can choose to do all things with love or disappoint the gods and re-visit our basest nature.
For God’s sake, do the job and be human or hang them up!
Your Sixth Inning
Whether in baseball or our jobs or as parents or as children, our job is to cover all the bases. There may be times when the stadium will be empty, and nobody will know whether we do our jobs or not, and those are the times….by God, those are the times…when we define who and what we are.
Bottom of the sixth inning….ground ball to the right of the mound….what will you do?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”