The Weakest Link: Motivation

This is in no way the last time I will be speaking of motivation, but this topic really gets me fired up. Motivation breaks down into simple psychology. It’s either intrinsic or extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is great—fame, fortune, girls, cars, a ring, and swagger. It’s all great. But intrinsic is a totally different animal. Having the will to do something to the best of your abilities and far beyond your wildest dreams is something that can’t be taught. In my opinion, intrinsic motivation is ingrained as a child through family, friends, life choices, obstacles, and much more. Plain and simple. I don’t care what facet of life we’re talking about. If you have a will, you will find a way.

Being a Red Sox fan, I’ll open with some motivation from Dustin Pedroia. As most of you know, in his first two major league baseball seasons, Pedroia was voted Rookie of the Year and MVP of the America League. Not to shabby for someone whose generously listed at five feet, nine inches and 180 lbs and has been told from little league to the majors that he just was too small and too slow and had horrible batting mechanics.

This quote was taken from his recent biography from a fellow major leaguer: “Dustin Pedroia wakes up every morning of his life, gets out of bed, and looks for someone’s ass to kick. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and rightfully so.” He has it ingrained deep in his heart and soul.

Now I’m going to turn the tables and highlight one of my favorite athletes of all time—Derek Jeter. Yep, I said it. I’m a Jeter fan. God knows I hate the Yankees as much as any true Sox fan, but Jeter is truly amazing. Throw personal and team stats out the window. This guy carries himself with more class than just about any person I could name. He is the epitome of an amazing teammate—I might even say the best teammate of all time. And his work ethic is something that most people couldn’t dream about. That and a couple of billion dollars is the reason he has so many rings and (hopefully not) a few more to come.

“Jeter knew early on that if he wanted to play in the Little League all-star games or go to a baseball camp, he had better come home with good grades and keep his behavior in check. Each August, he sat down with his parents and wrote a contract for the upcoming school year. They agreed to terms on grades, sports, extracurricular activities, and curfews. And there were consequences for breaking the contract. Driven by his passion to play ball, Jeter successfully maintained a 3.83 grade point average in high school, never cursed, drank, or used drugs.”

He knew what he wanted, and he got after it each and every day. That’s intrinsic people.

The last piece I will leave with all of you is an email I received this summer from a new ball player to the program. This email was unsolicited and came out of nowhere. (I cut out some of the personal information to keep this person anonymous.)

Name and personal information.

Accomplishments in high school… blah blah blah… To be honest, I’ve tasted success and victory and I’m addicted. I will do anything to have it again.

My life revolves completely around baseball and getting better at it. I play with the ———— (a travel team) in the summer, and I work out at ———– during the summer and the off-season. For the past two years, I’ve worked out with three younger teammates and friends consistently. I tried my best to put together a lifting program that was sport-specific and keyed on making us better athletes, not necessarily on getting us big biceps and chiseled chests. Obviously though, I am not, nor is anyone else, nearly as qualified as you are in this field.

I’m going to implement the workout you sent right away. I’d like to take you up on that offer of getting together though. I have some questions for you, and I’d really like to get your input on some things that I could do specifically to make me a better player. I want to make the hard work I put in at the gym really translate into something I can use next season.

I’m hungry, Josh, and you don’t have to believe that. I plan on showing you.

Not only have I seen the effort, it’s been constant, non-stop every day. From diet to playing to school, the kid wants it. Can I promise he’ll make an impact at the college level? Nope. Can I make a promise that someday he will make it to the highest ranks of professional baseball? No way in hell. Do I think he will if he stays on the path he’s on right now?

You bet your ass I do.

Doing things right one day doesn’t mean anything. Making perfection and hard work a habit—now that will elicit greatness.

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author

Josh Heenan is the head strength coach for Sacred Heart University's baseball program and head strength coach at Moore Physical Therapy in Southport, Connecticut, where he oversees Moore’s semi-private and personal training. His clients range from youth to profession baseball players, Olympic hopefuls, and everyday people looking to achieve a better body and the highest performance goals. Josh publishes a weekly blog at www.joshheenan.com.