BaseballJourney of a Thousand Miles

Author: Greg Brown 


Let me start out by saying that I am deathly afraid of many things.

It is easy for the ego to reject that notion.  It is easy to posture as an alpha and say that I am not afraid of anything.  But it is simply not true.  I fear snakes.  I strongly dislike clowns based the movies Poltergeist and It.  And I especially fear failure. 

I believe that my fear of failure is rooted in the unknown.  Like many of you, I am someone who likes to be prepared and to be able to “know” what lies ahead.  My fear of failing drives me to have a better understanding of what I do not know.  This fear drives me to learn, grow, and challenge myself to improve.  

The unknown is downright scary, and I constantly am trying to overcome that fear.

In saying all of this I must admit that I love scary movies.  I grew up watching Nightmare on Elm Street and other slasher pictures.  That feeling of anxiousness when a iconic figure like Jason (Friday the 13th) is hunting his prey or the sinister music of the Halloween movies play as Michael Myers lurks is something that movie goers like myself have been flocking to since the beginning of the genre hitting the silver screen.  This love for scary movies is something that my two daughters share as well.  Recently my youngest daughter went to the movies with her friends to see the latest Scream installment and raved about how much fun it was.  My oldest made me watch the two It movies (despite my strong objections) to help me overcome my fear of Pennywise.  Upon watching the two films, I was forced to understand the representation of fear to a much greater scale and discover like the characters of the film that by not giving into your fears that you can overcome them.

There have been many times in my life that I look back at the fear of the unknown and how those fears subsided once embarking on the actual journey.  Why do we build up fears to a point that they can be deterrents to those journeys?  How many journeys did I not experience because the fear was too great? I seek growth, but that is not to say I have taken every opportunity to grow due to some type of fear.  

Recently I took a big risk.  I was very scared to take this risk at the time because I was very comfortable.  I was a college head coach in my hometown overseeing a program that was a perennial title contender.  We had great culture that was built overtime, brilliant assistants, and great student-athletes.  I had it all.  I could easily have done this for the next 20 years and sailed off into the sunset.  However, there was something inside of me that felt I needed a new challenge.  I sought advice from my family, friends, and mentors as to what to do.  Time and time again the sentiment was for me to take this leap of faith.  One comment by a longtime friend and front office executive stood out to me.  I asked him, “where do you see me in this game?  What is my ceiling?”  He passionately responded by saying “I am not going to put a ceiling on you.  I think you are capable of many things in professional baseball, but you cannot achieve any of them if you are not in the arena.”

I could not get that statement out of my head.  No matter how successful I thought I could be, I was “not in the arena.”  Herein lies the leap of faith.  The risk came with so much uncertainty.  The stability of the college position versus the volatile nature of professional baseball.  The lifestyle changes for my family with me being on the road.

It became very clear to me that in order to start this journey, I needed to overcome my fear and take the first step.

Two years later I was named the Hitting Coach of the Chicago Cubs.  A lifelong dream of aspiring to the Major Leagues came because I took that first step of getting into the arena.  The beautiful thing about this journey is that it is just beginning and there are many more steps to take, obstacles to overcome, and mountains to climb.  

Simultaneously to fulfilling one lifelong dream, Eddy Rodriguez and I have brought to life the vision we had years ago (outlined in Eddy’s blog post The Origins of the Catching Ranch) of creating the premiere platform dedicated to development of catchers.  With the guidance and mentorship of Ron and Jill Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch, our journey as The Florida Baseball Ranch began in December 2021.

Neither dream would have been possible without overcoming fear and taking the first step.  I encourage you all to begin your journey of a thousand miles.

Take the first step.

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