I’ve written about controlling attitude and effort before and it’s something I speak about often. There are really two things we can control: our attitude and our effort. Applied to baseball, that could mean that we control how we show up to the game. We can make sure that we are fully present to our teammates, our fans, the task at hand. Whatever may be swirling around us off the field (family issues, trade rumors, unhappy fans) players owe it to themselves and others to shake off distractions and show up to the game. As I have mentioned before, Tony Oliva used to imagine a kid coming into the city to watch a game, having been released from the tasks on the farm. It would represent a rare opportunity (maybe not a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance, but close). So Tony owed it to that kid to be fully present to the events about to happen on the field. He had to control his attitude and show up.
Tony also had to dig in to the tasks of the day: batting, fielding, supporting his team. It was his effort that led to hits, strong throws, infectious chatter. Win or lose, no one could say that he “phoned it in.” And he didn’t have to be perfect, just get a little better as the season went forward. It was always about progress, not perfection. He wasn’t perfect, nor did he completely suck. He was a great player who ultimately sucked less and less over time. He did it by controlling his attitude and his effort.
Applied to daily life, controlling attitude and effort are equally important. I’ve been struck lately, in this period of the coronavirus pandemic, how a very vocal minority of people seem unable to move beyond focusing only on themselves and not on the wider community (or team). Baseball is not a solo sport. Nor is the game of life. We owe it to our teammates (i.e. fellow citizens) to show up to this situation, do whatever is necessary for the sake of everyone’s safety and suck less over time. No one is looking for perfect behavior; we want consistent, thoughtful appreciation of our role in the overall health of our community – exercised daily.
One example of fully showing up and doing what we can is wearing a face mask. It’s like this: imagine if we walked around with no pants on and someone went pee. We’d get splashed. If we wore pants but the other person did not, we’d be a little less wet. If we both wore pants, only he would get wet – we’d stay dry. Wearing a mask or not has nothing to do with “personal freedom.” It has everything to do with not infecting someone else. God forbid I should be the one who inadvertently put you in the hospital because I had symptoms but didn’t exhibit them (and didn’t wear a mask). So, attitude – try this: wearing a mask is a way of saying “I care about your health as much as mine. I’m wearing this mask as a gesture of kindness to you, and to store clerks, deli counter people, cashiers and others.” Effort: it’s not difficult to put on a mask. We just need to show up, dig in and suck less. We’ve got this! Atta boy! Atta girl!