Smile

By None None
Nov. 07, 2016

Kris Bryant
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever faced a critical moment in your life?  2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant has.  

The World Series. The culmination of 8 long months working together to lay claim as the best team in the world. Not to mention the years of personal preparation for each player to be on this stage.  Kris Bryant, the "Can't Miss Prospect" from Las Vegas, NV was no exception.  There was no bigger moment in the young career of Kris Bryant.  This was the ultimate experience that every baseball player ever has dreamed about.  For 108 years, every Cubs fan has been hoping for this moment.  The chance to win the World Series.  It was the perfect storm of hope and potential.  

Yet, it was about to end in horrible fashion for Bryant, the Cubs and the millions of fans.  Despite being the prohibitive favorites in the series, they found themselves in quite the hole.  In game 4, at home, Bryant committed 2 throwing errors that helped, in part, the Indians win the game and take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.  This wasn't supposed to happen.  Bryant and the Cubs were supposed to dominate this series and bring home the World Series trophy in Wrigley. That wasn't happening.

Fortunately, with their backs against the proverbial wall, the team put together some timely hitting, big home runs and quality pitching to crawl their way back into the series by winning the next two games to force a game 7.  After 9 grueling innings of back and forth baseball, the game is tied. This forces extra innings for the first time in a game 7 of the World Series since 1997 (a game the Cleveland Indians lost to the Florida Marlins). To add to the drama of the night, the rain begins to fall, and the tarp comes on the field. After a 17 minute game delay, they continue the game.  Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero come up with an RBI a piece, to put the Cubs up 2.  Of course, the Indians wont go away.  After a run is scored, there is a runner on first with two outs. A ball is hit up the middle. On slick, damp grass, Bryant races over to field the ball. Does the memory of the errors of game 4 creep back into his head? Does the moment of impending victory and celebration get too large for him to handle?.   

It would seem not. As Bryant slides over and fields the ball, looking like the Cheshire Cat, the grin takes up his whole face. He fields the ball cleanly and fires the ball to Anthony Rizzo at first base to seal the victory. In the process, he slips to the ground, but quickly gathers himself and jumps up off the ground in celebration. The curses, the 108 year drought, the pain is over for Cubs fan everywhere. Fittingly, the wonder-boy prospect proves his mental toughness and makes the final out of the 2016 world series.

When you look at Kris Bryant's face, you see that he wanted the ball.  He wanted the opportunity.  He embraced the pressure that comes with the final out.  How often do we shy away in our own lives from similar experiences.  Okay, I know, few of us will have the chance to field a ball as a professional baseball player at any level.  Yet, we all have opportunities in our own lives that are just as impactful, I would say even more so.  While that play may have seemed larger than life, we face even more crucial points.  Things like marriage, buying a home, getting a job, having a child are our own "World Series Moments".  

So how do we approach those moments and make a play like Kris Bryant?  Its very simple.

Preparation. Kris Bryant did not just show up off the street and play.  In fact, he spent his entire childhood and early adult life practicing and perfecting his abilities and skills on the field.  He was prepared for the moment because he'd played it out on the field and in his mind thousands of times.  We can make the same preparations in our lives by practicing the basics of living life.  For example, when I asked my wife to marry me, I spent hours and hours with her.  I spent time with her family.  I spent time watching other married couples.  I put in some work to prepare myself for that opportunity.  In financial opportunities, have you practiced making budgets, speaking to trusted advisers, and thought about what you wanted from that experience?  Kris Bryant had his dad and coaches help him prepare make the right decisions on the field, so it makes sense that we would do the same off of it.

Vision. The moment wasn't too big for him because he had already "seen" it happen.  Kris Bryant gave an interview where he openly speaks about planning what he'll do when he wins the World Series.  He said, “You shouldn’t be playing the game if you don’t think it will happen.”  Bottom line, is you have to think those big moments in life are going to happen.  Don't just think about them happening.  Think about how glorious it will be and how you'll feel. 

Simplicity. Think about what you need to get done, not the consequences or "what-ifs".   “Oh, man, I knew he was fast. I knew I had to get rid of it,” Bryant told MLB.com’sTom Verducci after the game when asked what was going through his mind during the play.  Keep it simple.  When the big moment comes, what do you need to get done?  There isn't time to go over contingency plans or reminisce about the past.  Just keep it simple and get it done.  

Smile.  Just smile when your moment comes.  You've earned it.  You deserve it.  Relish in it!  Take care of business, but do it with a smile.  The big moments will come and it isn't what those moments are or who we were before, it is how we handle the situation that matters.  I think we all deserve to have our own Kris Bryant moment, and I hope we can all have the same smile.  

***Edited to include the description of Kris Bryant as 2016 NL MVP.***