At Christmas a few years ago, my son gave me R.A. Dickey’s autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.” For the uninitiated, the knuckleball is to pitching what quantum theory was once to physics – meaning, mostly, it defies the rules of convention. Major League Baseball and its fans worship the 95+ mph fast ball.
But the knuckleball is an anomaly often compared to a fluttering butterfly. Of the 70 pitchers in the Hall of Fame, only four are knuckleballers. What’s more, only one knuckleballer – R.A. Dickey – has won pitching’s highest recognition, the Sy Young Award.
Tim Wakefield, the retired standout for the Boston Red Sox and Space Coast native son, first captured my interest in the pitch. It wasn’t so much the uniqueness or the mechanics of the throw, but the understanding that neither Dickey nor Wakefield began their careers throwing knuckleballs. In fact, Wakefield wasn’t even a pitcher when he was drafted into professional baseball. Both men were good players, but the likelihood of them experiencing storied careers in the Majors was unlikely unless they reinvented themselves.
Hitting the Ceiling
Both Dickey and Wakefield saw the window of opportunity closing on their dreams of playing in the “Bigs.” Though their skills were way above average, MLB doesn’t recognize those who are good, only the exceptional. Each of them, in a move combined of equal portions of both courage and desperation, decided they would reinvent themselves by learning to throw a pitch that in most seasons only 1 pitcher out of over 340 in the league can throw.
A gamble when you consider that if you throw a great knuckleball, you will likely make the fiercest batter look incompetent, but if you’re off, a home run derby is inevitable.
I suppose this is all very real to me because I have reinvented myself twice in my career, and although I wasn’t offering up knuckle balls to the best hitters in the world in front of 45,000 fans, it sure felt that way sometimes.
But, taking the risk, I suppose, is the first step.
Confronting the reality that your future won’t be any different than your past unless you force a redirect is not easy. Christine Kane said,
“Usually, reinvention starts when someone looks around at his/her life and says, ‘Wow. This is NOT working. I am not happy.’”
Of course, there are varying degrees of happiness but for most of us it is doing what we do best and getting the highest return on our efforts.
In my estimation, there are three essentials necessary for reinvention:
Everyone has dreams, but not everyone is intentional about turning their dreams into realities. Tony Robbins once pointed out, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s not action, you haven’t truly decided.” The journey of reinvention begins by seeing where we want to be and acting where we are.
The idea of reinvention is not just for the person pondering or being forced to consider a change in vocation. Disciplining ourselves to celebrate change, to learn new skills and approaches is the foundation of all progress. Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” It is precisely those people who do change themselves that eventually change the world.
The prophet Jeremiah spoke the heart of God during one of the lowest points in ancient Israel’s history when he declared, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, that you may have a future and a hope.”