Personal experiences discovering why it is important to prepare for every situation
The Importance of Preparation
Throughout the last eleven years of my life I have been an avid softball player, whether it was a recreational team, travel ball, or high school softball. I was not the best player on the team or even remotely good, but I could appreciate a perfectly executed double play and I enjoyed the comradery. Part of the reason that I was not very good was because I did not put in the appropriate amount of time and effort outside of practice to better myself. I did not take the extra fly balls in the outfield, nor did I hit the extra bucket of balls and focus on my T-work. This laziness and lack of motivation did not matter most of the time because I sat the bench or just pinch ran, but late into my senior season I was put in a position that I was not ready to be in.
One of my teammates was out with a back injury and my coach decided to give me a chance, something I had been waiting for all season. So, this was it, one of my last games of softball ever and I was up to bat with bases loaded, two outs. This is not some miracle scenario where I hit a homerun and win the game, no, not at all. As everyone, including myself, expected, I struck out. Naturally, I was disappointed in myself, but the full reality of my actions did not hit me until weeks later.
For weeks I laughed about it, how funny it was that I struck out on my last time ever seeing a softball field. I felt that it was absolutely fitting for my senior season, the perfect end to an already horrible story. And then it struck me, I had let my team down. My teammates, who put in the extra time and stayed after practice and worked extremely hard to play a sport that they love. My teammates who had gotten four base hits in a row and successfully got on base. They were left relying on me, someone who did not put in the time or effort to better myself for the team. Their extra effort had gone to waste because I could not deliver during a crucial time. I was horrified at the realization that my own personal lack of preparation was the determining factor for the game and for the people who played in it.
As horrible as I felt about it, I realized it was so much more than a high school softball game. After high school I plan to enlist into the United States Marine Corps, something that I have always aspired to do. The realization that it would no longer be my team that relied on me, but the lives of Americans and my fellow colleagues. People's lives would depend on how well I prepared myself. Running the extra mile, doing the extra set of ab work, staying up late to familiarize myself with different procedures and regulations, all of a sudden became a priority and not an inconvenience. I re-envisioned my entire military career, both as someone who did the bare minimum and, again, as someone who put in work outside of what was mandatory. My success would be determined by the way I would choose to prepare myself for each situation.
My softball experience is one that I laughed about for years, I found it so funny how bad I was and never sought to put in the extra time it would take to be a better athlete. While doing this I completely ignored that I was also not putting in the extra time to be a better teammate. The people you surround yourself with are reliant on your ability to do the job that you were given, the same way we rely on everyone else to do their job correctly. I feel for my teammates who were at the mercy of my ignorance and my own self-centered feelings. The lack of motivation is so much more than a sport, it is about not becoming a better version of yourself and not living up to your full potential. Millions of people's lives are dependent upon how well prepared the military is, and each individual person has to have the self-discipline make sure they are doing their job correctly. This experience is not my proudest moment, but it is important to share because like me, you could not realize the consequences of your actions until it is too late. Being self-aware of the effort you put in to anything will determine the outcome, whether it be a sport or a profession; you get out exactly what you put in.