“Be fearless as a kid.”- an Entrepreneur’s life in baseball.
Fearless. When I was 11 years old, I was part of a baseball team that was getting ready to play the National Little League championship game. It was a warm day with sunny,blue skies. It was humid, but there was a light, cool breeze. The stadium was packed and I was warming up with my teammate, right in front of the stands. As I glanced over, I could see people looking for their seats, buying from vendors and kids going up and down the stairs. I could hear the fans rooting for us, saying encouraging words. I could also see people just having conversations while waiting for the game to start. But a statement from one of those conversations happened to catch my ear, and until this day, has stuck with me.
Have fun like a kid. Be cheerful like a kid. Be fearless like a kid.”
“Be fearless like a kid.” This last part of the statement had me almost scratching my head while warming up. What made it even more confusing was who said it and who was getting the ‘advice’. One of our team biggest sponsors was a retired General. He was about sixty years old, for the most part a quiet man, but had a strong, deep voice. We all knew who was there when he spoke up. He was a well known, respected, and loved individual in the community. The interesting part was that he was speaking to my father, who at that time was about forty two years old. My father was a successful, corporate executive, who loved his job, loved his family and loved helping the community (I was his #1 fan!)
But still, in my mind, at that moment, I wondered, why would this retired General be telling my father to “be fearless like a kid?"
I was a very active kid throughout my childhood years. I played sports like baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and golf. I did really well in all of them. Also, I was very adventurous (my family thought I was crazy). I loved climbing trees, walls, the roof top of my house, and roof tops of our neighbors’. I loved my BMX bike. I loved doing tricks on the sidewalks, jumping up hills and racing against others. I loved going with my cousin to explore the jungles by where I lived (yes, all this when I was 7-14 years old), going down the many creeks that surrounded us. I loved working during the summer at one of my best friend’s ranches; riding the horses, moving the cattle from one “potreros” to the other one at four in the morning. I loved driving their tractor ( This is where I learned how to drive), working the land or picking up the hay. I was fearless! I didn’t think about it, I just did it.
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Now, going back to the game. Although I had played many games prior to getting to the championship game, I was nervous! I was literally shaking! I played centerfield most of the games, but this time, coach had change plans and had me played right field. Although I was still 3rd in the batting lineup, I wanted to question my coach on why he made the change, but I didn’t. I was confident in my skills, but somehow, for the first time in my life, fear was within me, which caused my nervousness, hence my ‘shaking’.
Was fear caused by the change? Maybe. Was it caused by uncertainty? Maybe. Did a past experience create this fear? Maybe. Did my coach’s facial expression (he always looked serious) cause this fear? Maybe. At that moment, I was uncomfortable and I didn't know what was happening and I didn’t know how to handle it. But somehow, that statement “be fearless like a kid” was with me, and it impacted my game and my life.
It was the bottom of the 9th inning, and we were on the field. We were winning by one run. There was a man on 2nd base and two outs. Next on bat, their best hitter. His last time at bat, he knocked it out of the park, into right field. The crowd was loud! My coach just yelled, “Edison, focus! This is it!” The ‘shaking’ came back within me again. But I thought, “be fearless like a kid”. And at that moment, as our pitcher was about to throw his first pitch to this batter, in a matter of seconds, I said to myself, “I am that kid and I will not be afraid!!” The first pitch is made and the batter hits it. Not hard enough for a home run, but enough to possibly make a hit. It was up in the air and coming my way! I was shocked at first but I started running, and running, and running faster. And while running I was saying “I will do it, I will do it, I will do it!”. I caught the ball!! Oh my gosh, I caught the ball!! I slowly came to a stop, in disbelief, opened my glove and there it was. At that very moment I felt my shaking (my fear) was there no more and my confidence had risen to another level. I caught the ball. I did it! We won the championship!!
I still reflect on and use that experience when fear builds up within me, especially as an entrepreneur (and now 42 years old). I might not be a kid anymore, but I still have the heart of a kid! (my wife would say I act like one too 🙂 ). I am adventurous and love exploring new business ideas. I love strategizing the next marketing campaign, earning the trust of a prospect, figuring out how to raise funds for the next business deal, or how to motivate a disengaged member of my staff. Fear is always there along the way but I have learned that it is how I react to that emotion that matters. I have learned that if I let fear enter my decision making process, it will prevent me from finding out what could’ve been. I would have to confess, I am a more prudent, adventurous entrepreneur now, but that doesn’t mean that I let fear get in my way.
I have failed, but I have learned. I believe it would be foolish not to use the lessons of my downfalls to take on the next endeavor. I don’t just jump blindly into decisions like I did as a kid. But I am cautious also not to over analyze or plan too much. At some point I just have to do it!
I have to be “fearless like a kid”!