Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It’s All in the Follow Through

Decades ago when I played Little League Baseball, one of the phrases screamed at me the most was “You have to follow through!”  I’d swing, but the minute my bat hit the ball - or didn’t - my arm would cease its forward motion.  I mean, to my lazy mind I hit the ball, task completed.  Wasn’t that the point?  To connect aluminum rod to the small leather sphere and send it forward?  Once that was accomplished, why exert the continued energy of swinging my arm the rest of the way?  It seemed like quite a bit of wasted effort to me.  Not to my coach, however, who also happened to be my father.   Soon, I was either following through with my swing, warming the bench, or grounded.  I didn’t want to play anyway, so I sat in the dugout and kept score.

When it comes to accomplishing their dreams or goals, this is where most people fail.  They simply do not have the follow through.  When they get an idea, they go off like a bottle rocket, full of excitement and energy.  Yet, after that sudden bang, interest fades and they set aside what they’ve accomplished for a new idea that fills them with that adrenaline rush of excitement again.  Soon their lives look like the bottom drawer of my desk, full of half finished projects and good intentions.

I’ve known a couple of people like this.  They get a fantastic idea and are filled with enthusiasm as they start planning how to bring it to pass.  They’ll spend money buying supplies and tools to get them started in their new business venture with dreams of being their own boss.  They’re excited and constantly rambling on and on about how they’re going to make it and they illicit tons of enthusiastic support.  That is, until they figure out that their dream requires work, sweat, and effort.  Once the excitement of a new idea turns to the actual labor, they shelf it and start talking about the next great entrepreneurial endeavor.  It’s as if it’s the rush of the new idea alone they crave, not the fulfilling of a dream.

What kept these people from reaching their goals was a lack of follow through.  You cannot just stop with a conversation about your idea or jotting a plan down.  It’s more than purchasing equipment or reading books on the subject.  The success is in the follow through.

For the longest time in my writing this was exactly my problem.  I had plenty of story ideas and article concepts.  I had notebooks full of background information and character histories and the enthusiasm of creating new worlds with exotic people.  What I didn’t have was the focus to see many of the ideas through to the words “The End.”  I would start a novel, get about half way into it and then another idea would excite me more and the one I was working on would get tossed to the side to “finish after I completed this new one,” which of course would never happen as another one would catch my fancy.  It wasn’t until I swung my arm all the way through that my stories went where I wanted them to - to print.

Almost everyone has a dream, something that gets them excited when they think about it and talk about it.  However, what too many don’t have is the drive to see it all the way to the end in order to be successful.  They can’t control their focus long enough to get an idea out of the planning stage and they waste too much money on things that are going to get dusty in the attic.  The only way to hit your dream out of the ballpark is to follow through on your swing.  Don’t give up too early, because this just may be the homerun your life is waiting for.

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