For those who have read my posts, you’ll be aware that I often use insights taken from people’s lives, especially sports’ celebrities to make a point. Typically the lesson has to do with reinforcing my beliefs in taking responsibility for our lives and making decisions based on a long-term perspective, rather than enjoying a short-term benefit.
Well, here’s another treasure of a story. This one is from the life of Sandy Koufax. During the last four years of his baseball career, some would consider him the greatest pitcher of all time. For those who don’t know him, here is a little bio taken from Wiki-pedia:
“Sanford “Sandy” Koufax (; born Sanford Braun; December 30, 1935) is a former American Major League Baseball (MLB) left-handed pitcher. He pitched 12 seasons for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, from 1955 to 1966. Koufax, at age 36 in 1972, became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Koufax’s career peaked with a run of six outstanding years from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis in his left elbow ended his career prematurely at age 30. He was an All-Star for six seasons and was the National League‘s Most Valuable Player in 1963. He won three Cy Young Awards in 1963, 1965, and 1966, by unanimous votes, making him the first three-time Cy Young winner in baseball history and the only one to win three times when one overall award was given for all of major league baseball instead of one award for each league. Koufax also won the NL Triple Crown for pitchers those same three years by leading the NL in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average.
Koufax was the first major league pitcher to pitch four no-hitters and the eighth pitcher to pitch a perfect game in baseball history”
The point in bringing up all these impressive stats is that Sandy Koufax retired from baseball in 1966 at the very top of his game, results-wise. However, his success came with a great physical cost. He was taking cortisone shots every other ballgame. He had constant stomach aches from the pain pills he was needing to take. He had a deep concern about how long he would even be able to have use of his arm.
The following excerpt came from a press conference he gave announcing his retirement:
One reporter asked Sandy, “what is your thought about the loss of income?”
“well, the loss of income, alright, let’s put it this way, if there was a man who did not have use of one of his arms and you told him it would cost a lot of money and he could buy back that use, he’d give him every dime he had. I believe that’s my feeling. And in a sense, maybe this is what I’m doing. I don’t know.
I’ve got a lot of years to live after baseball and I’d like to live them with complete use of my body. I don’t regret one minute of the last twelve years and I think I would regret one year that was too many.”
Although Sandy Koufax was enjoying earthly success at the moment, he was able to move beyond all the trappings of his current success to see a long-term perspective. Because of that perspective, he made adjustments. He made sacrifices in his current situation to live a life without regrets later in his life.
I believe there might be some who read this post that are also currently enjoying much worldly success. In fact, you might not even be aware of how well you are really doing, that in earthly terms. Right now, you have your health, you have many, many comforts in this world (more than most), but you have paid a price for that success and you are right now at the point of decision.
Like the animated “munching-machine” in Pac-Man, you can continue your intense striving for more, or like Sandy Koufax, you can courageously say, “I am at a point of success of which I’m grateful, but I need to think of the long-term (to live a life without regrets).
– has your zeal to be successful damaged relationships in your family that now need to be reconciled (or developed)?
– has your single-minded focus on earthly success caused you to neglect the spiritual side of life –seeking a relationship with God?
– has your “all-out” pursuit to be successful caused you to form bad health habits (little exercise, poor diet, living with stress, lack of sleep)?
Maybe its time you call a meeting with those who follow you to say you are retiring from your pursuits to take care of yourself and make some adjustments.
Are you able to “retire” at the top of your game because you can think long-term and are ready to make some adjustments in your life?