Rediscovering My Line of Sight

On an early fall morning in 2003, I arose to a 5:25 am alarm clock. Over 12 years ago and I can still feel the anticipation I had for that series of electronic beeps. The same beeping that 99% of the population absolutely dreads. I remember welcoming it. I could not wait to wake up, throw on my running shoes and head out the door to try to beat my three-mile time from the day before.

Living in a hilly neighborhood and essentially starting at the top, the last mile-and-a-half was all uphill, a factor that might make other runners look for another route. Not me. With each step I took I gained strength, speed, and most importantly, control of my body. The last 100 yards were straight uphill. There was not a single time over a six-year span when I didn’t sprint the last 100 yards to finish my run strong.

Flash forward to today. I found myself mentally and physically miserable on a run by mile two. Prior to starting the run, I planned on sprinting the last leg, like I would have 10 years prior. But by the time I reached that last leg, it is an understatement to say I didn’t feel as strong or in control of my body. To take the pain away from my legs, I reflected on the difference in mindset I had at that moment and compared it to the one that my younger self had. Why was it so hard now to sprint the last 100 yards of my run? Even with the most determination I could muster, I was still significantly slower than I should have been, and transitioned from a half-ass sprint to a jog the last five yards. Fuck.


It took about 18 months to figure out the missing key ingredient, which I finally stumbled upon while reading the book Relentless by Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s former trainer. I was listening to the book on my way to work while Tim talked about the difference between “Cleaners” and everyone else.  Michael Jordan lived, breathed, ate, drank, gambled, played and shit excellence. From an early age, he had a clear vision of what he wanted out of life — to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Tim called him a “Cleaner” — someone who dedicates everything they have to a task and stays 100% focused until the job is done. They push as hard as they possibly can towards their goal, and then push that much further past their limits to do what others say is impossible.

BOOM. It hit me. I thought about the intense mindset the best competitors have to have, which forced me to see the difference in mine. I lacked vision. I did not have a clear line of sight to exactly what I wanted. I had goals, but not a vision so powerful that I could close my eyes and picture myself on a big league mound with a ball in my hand. That was the line of sight that used to propel me through all those early morning runs, workouts, bullpens, injuries, the list goes on. 10 years ago, it was more than a run. It was a stepping stone that was necessary for me to play college baseball, and ultimately, prepare for the Major Leagues.


“The work I put in was not something I could possibly replicate without having line of sight.”

I didn’t quite make the MLB, however, I did do okay for myself in college. Being a 5’10” pitcher, I had a lot going against me after battling a reconstructive surgery on my elbow at the age of 19. But none of that really matters. I feel that I did pretty damn well for what my body and mind were capable of. The reason for this? I worked my ass off and nearly everything I did was driven by realizing that the particular action in front of me was required to make the Major Leagues, and therefor, I did it with intent. The work I put in was not something I could possibly replicate without having line of sight.

To be clear, I am not on a mission to replicate my physical capabilities that I had 12 years ago. I am, however, on a mission to replicate the mental strength I was able to once achieve. My mental strength came up short for my standards on that run because it  was not a stepping stone to anything other than keeping my 30-year-old body in decent shape.

What I have realized is I am happier when I put forth a tremendous amount of effort on a daily basis, whether mentally or physically, because each day is a stepping stone to something greater. I am happier because I am able to achieve more out of myself. I am able to experience success. I like success. I am not sure if I could ever be happy without it. The trick to maintaining this level of focus every day is having that clear line of sight into achieving something amazing, like playing in the Major Leagues. My goals have changed, so I, like most people, need to adjust my line of sight instead of losing track of it completely.

The best way I can explain the feeling of having line of sight is by picturing yourself being followed by a series of video cameras at all times that are broadcasting to the world. Would your actions be different? Would you do everything a little better? Focus a little longer? That is a mild version of what it is like to have a clear line of sight at becoming something great. Everything you do, no matter who is looking, is done to your best capacity — and then some.

Moral of the story, people who have line of sight into something specific and fucking awesome work harder, smarter and are more relentless in their pursuits. Even if they don’t become the best in the world, they still achieve greatness.



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