In the fall of 2013, I was just coming off being a part of something far greater than myself, winning a gold medal with the USA Baseball 18U National Team, serving as the team’s hitting coach.
Flashback a little more than a year earlier, on May 1, 2012, my father and I were in the CCU unit of a hospital making the hardest decision of our lives – having to pull the plug on my mother, Susan, due to complications from a surgery that happened three weeks prior.
I remember standing in the outfield at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan crying, not because we had won the Gold, but because the emotions were still raw from that day more than a year ago. Since her passing, I didn’t have time to stop and reflect on what my mother meant to me and how much she had done for me during her time on this earth. And during a moment where I should have been joyful, instead, I found myself being overwhelmed with emotions of another breed.
After the celebrations had ended we hopped on a plane back to the States. I had more than 14 hours to reflect on everything that had transpired and I began to realize that in my reflections, I had started to understand the meaning and purpose in my life.
For so many years I was rushing through life. Always chasing. Chasing a dream. Chasing a number. Chasing a life I had imagined for myself as far back as I could imagine. And at that moment when the person who brought me into this world was taken away too soon, I suddenly felt empty.
It was a feeling I didn’t want anyone else to experience.
I was fortunate to grow up in a home with a loving mother and father who were there for me the entire time. To say that I grew up without any support or help, would be a lie. I was looked after, supported, cared for and inspired. I was given my share dose of tough love, especially from my mother. But at the end of the day when a big piece of me was taken away, I was left to wonder how I was going to carry the torch.
Timing Is Everything
I’m a big believer in timing. If you trust the timing of your life, you will be aware of situations, people, and experiences and will be able to take advantage of their teachings and guidance.
I hate to say it, but the death of my mother couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.
In 2012, I was a successful private hitting coach in the Philadelphia area, helping hitters become better people first and players second. At that time it was a job helping me to pay the bills, but it also found me searching for more. When my mom passed away, I began to figure out what I had been searching for.
I remember reading a book called Start With Why by Simon Sinek and I found myself glued to his Ted Talk studying the greatest lesson I never intended to find. He challenged me to find my purpose and write down WHY I was doing what I was doing. As I was reading and watching, I couldn’t help but embrace the feeling that was coming over me. I wasn’t doing what I did for a paycheck anymore. It was much bigger than that.
I had found my WHY.
My WHY is to help others. Help others hit. Help others grow personally. Help others find their purpose. Help others find their WHY. I was able to tie in what I did in the cage to something greater than myself. I truly understood WHY I did what I did!
I was called to be a servant leader.
Discovering Leadership: sometimes the smallest act of kindness makes the biggest impact
After coming down off a high like I never experienced before, I began wondering how I could impact the lives of others in a positive manner. After taking many walks to think about it (something I enjoy to do not only with myself but players I work with), I decided to write.
At first, writing was in the form of a daily group email sent to 20 of my closest friends and coaches.
Here is an example of an email that went out to the group on 11/27/13:
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light and not our darkness that frightens us.” – Mary Ann Williamson
Inspire someone today.
I sent them out regularly. I wasn’t expecting anything in return. Each message had a purpose, and every one of them was meant to help me. But at the same time, I knew that if they helped me, there was someone else out there that could benefit from the message too. And if 20 people read it each day, maybe I could inspire and help at least one more person that day. It was beginning to fulfill my WHY in more ways than just a cage session.
This is how the Morning Message started to reach others outside of my circle of influence. Looking back, it’s powerful to think that when you lead with your WHY, others will begin to follow. They don’t necessarily follow you as a human being, rather, they attach themselves to your WHY and your message. They relate to your story. They have compassion for what you’re going through or went through in the past. They sense your genuineness, and understand you’re leading with your heart, and they want to join.
Today, that tiny act of kindness called, the Morning Message, impacts the lives of thousands ranging from Fortune 500 CEO’s all the way down to coaches, parents, and players.
At the end of 2013, I was benefiting from a new sense of purpose in my life, and I was finding new ways to inspire others and help them find their WHY. I woke up everyday with renewed energy because my WHY was starting to shine brightly and become my North Star.
How You React To A Situation Can Literally Change the Situation Itself
Just when you think you have it all going for you, life throws you a 3-1 breaking ball.
On February 11, 2014, I listened as the doctor said, “The tests have come back, and you have Leukemia.” What immediately followed was a piercing scream that resonated throughout the emergency room floor, and then silence fell all around me.
My instincts from my playing days kicked in. I switched gears and became laser focused. My heart beat went down, instead of up. I could feel my world slowing down instead of speeding up.
I asked the doctor if I could have a word with him. A sense of calm came over me as I slowly walked out of the hospital room and into the hallway to speak privately with the man who just had told us that my wife, Sarah, had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30.
Sarah needed me. She needed me to be calm. She needed me to be strong. And I needed her. I was in charge of navigating us through something we had never been through before…until that cold February morning on the 7th floor of the Rhoads building at the Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania.
It was a long and trying road, which included 34 straight days in the hospital, followed up by 115 chemo treatments, but my wife is a rock. She is one of the strongest people I know and how she handled everything was truly inspiring. I always tell the hitters I work with that how you react to a situation can literally change the situation itself. And our life in that hospital room is living proof of it. Today, I’m happy to report that since October 17, 2014, she has been in remission.
Becoming a Leader
You can always learn from any situation in your life. I certainly had a lot of teachable moments in the coming weeks after that eventful morning in the ER.
On your journey to becoming a leader, start by taking care of those you love. It’s about putting others first. It’s about being givers. Not takers.
There is more to life than how many followers you have on social media, or how many awards you have collected over the years. I could care less what your batting average was last year, or how many all-star teams you’ve made.
It’s about leading. Leading people. Leading hearts and leading souls. It’s about love. Loving others, even your enemies because life’s too short to carry grudges and jealousies. Others deserve our love, especially in the toughest of times.
To lead is to inspire. This concept is the foundation of my conversation with Joe Ferraro on Episode 43 of KWB Radio. If you haven’t listen to it yet, check it out here. And in order to inspire someone, it must come from the heart. It’s dipped in love with no ulterior motives attached.
I believe our purpose for being here on this earth is to impact the lives of others in a positive manner. You never know how what you say or what you write impacts another human being. Most times we never know because that person never shares with us how we positively impacted their life.
I encourage you to evaluate WHY you do what you do and find out what your purpose is on this earth.
We never know how long our stay on this earth will be. Every morning I wake up I sit on the side of my bed and say to myself, “I’m grateful to be alive and experience another day on this earth. Thank you, Lord. How can I help someone today?”
All it takes is five minutes to change someone’s life. How are you going to use your “5 minutes” today to inspire someone?
April 11, 2017
Your legacy isn’t your dream. Your greatest legacy is the next generation of dreamers your dream inspires.
Inspire someone today.
For more than a decade, Kevin Wilson has been one of the most respected hitting coaches in the game. He works behind the scenes as a private hitting consultant to some of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. In 2013, Kevin was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. Team USA beat Japan for the Gold medal at the IBAF World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan.
He is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller The #GoodBatting Book and co-hosts a popular podcast, KWB Radio, that showcases unique conversations with the pros. If you want Kevin to speak at your next event or if you want take advantage of his popular 2-day KWB Experience for players and coaches, contact Kevin today!