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I Give You Permission

April 25th, 2018

By Kevin Wilson

The need was there but I was almost too scared to fill it.

You see, the world of professional baseball is a toxic one. It tests the deepest parts of your soul. Most fans are unaware of how much the game can break you down and affect your life both on and off the field.

It’s been a dozen years since the last time I played in a professional game. During my career, only a few teams employed what we now call “Mental Skills” coaches. There was a school of thought back then that if you had to talk to the “team shrink” you were “weak” and not “tough enough” to step between the lines and compete every night.

If you had an issue at home, you thought twice about bringing it to the clubhouse. Once you walked through those doors, it was time to put a new face on and act like nothing was bothering you. To be weak in moments of turmoil, would deem you unsuitable to perform once 7 pm rolled around. Most of the time, you didn’t feel like you could walk into your manager’s office and have a conversation about what was going on at home. Most managers would have their door closed and the only time you walked into their office was if you were being disciplined, sent down/up or released.

The manager’s office was one of transaction – not transformation.

Broken

It took me six years to “get over” or “move on” from playing professional baseball because of what it did to my mental well-being.

Simply put, I was a broken man.

I had allowed the game, and my stature as a player, to become my identity. I had allowed the toxic environment to permeate every piece of my being. While on the outside, most people wouldn’t notice much of a difference, on the inside I was completely broken.

Sadly, I didn’t have anyone I could talk to.

And this is WHY I do what I do today.

I am private professional hitting consult to MLB and MiLB players. While the business card says I am a hitting consultant, it’s only the starting point to something much more meaningful and long lasting.

The relationship between me and the player usually starts by talking about how we can improve the consistency of the swing and/or simplify his approach at the plate. But as we start to build a relationship and I gain the trust of the player, he realizes that 90% of what he needs, and what I can provide, is found in the life aspect of things. Or as I like to say “working in the margins.”

The most important thing I needed as a player was someone to lean on. Someone who I could trust to help me sift through the clutter of life and professional baseball and to provide clarity in my life. I needed someone who could help me, utilizing their own experience of playing professional baseball, not someone who could only provide a stock answer they learned from a textbook at the prestigious school down the road.

Just Do It

Shortly after I retired from the game, I began to think of ways I could help out the next generation of professional players who needed exactly what I needed – someone to help them with their “mental game” not just on the field, but most importantly off of it.

To my knowledge at that time, there wasn’t anyone out there merging both worlds – hitting and life coach/mentor. You either had a hitting coach or a mental skills coach.

I saw a window of opportunity to be that natural blend for a player, helping them with their swing and approach, as well as their walk through life.

But first I had to give myself permission. I began to lean on my mentors as I began to formulate my business model.

I was fearful of going all-in at the beginning. I had a lot of questions that I needed answers to. Here were just a few of my initial concerns:

1. I never played a day in the big leagues so what big leaguer would listen to someone who never played a day in the “show”?
2. What will be my fees?
3. What if it doesn’t work and I have to continue doing lessons my entire life?
4. How do I market my services which are intended to be done in the “shadows” and behind the scenes?
5. Will anyone see the value that I see in my services?

Initially, there were more questions than answers. I was naive enough to think that I could pull it off. In fact, I believe my naiveness is what allowed me to dive in and do whatever it took to fulfill the goal of becoming a mentor, confidant and advisor to so many professional hitters. If I knew how hard it would be to get to where I am today, I’m not sure if I would ever have started.

Finding Clarity

Fast forward more than 10 years later, and I am blessed to be able to do what I love to do – help others. I’m so glad that I “pressed send” and started to do what I knew hitters needed the most in today’s game.

Players are drowning in information, but starving for wisdom.

We live in a data-driven society where numbers seem to dance around in our dreams. Young players are coming into the game flooded with information and their every move seems to be quantified. I get more questions about launch angles and exit velos and less questions about approach and how to master strengths, than I did ten years ago.

In my newest book Finding Clarity: A Mindful Look Into the Art of Hitting, I help hitters and coaches sift through the clutter to find something that works for them. I want to celebrate the individual. I want a hitter to master his strengths. And ultimately I want you to understand WHY you do what you do and have a purpose for everything you do – both on and off the field.

As you read this, I don’t know what chapter of life you’re in. I don’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going. But I do know this, give yourself permission to be who you were created to be. Be a shining light for someone today. You may be the only person who can lift them up and show that you care about them as a person first and a player or employee/client second.

Walk With Me

One thing I love to do with my clients is take walks. I wrote about one walk in particular which you can read here. I believe that if I can remove the player from his “bubble” (stadium, hotel, teammates, etc) he can begin to separate the stresses of work from what he truly feels inside as a person.

The walks rarely have anything to do with hitting and mostly to do with what the player is dealing with in that moment of life. I want to meet the player where he is, rather than give a bunch of advice, so I tend to ask questions and listen to understand what’s on his mind. My job is to be a world-class listener and provide an avenue in which the player can figure things out on their own. By taking him away from his toxic environment, we can bring a level of clarity that would never be attained by staying inside the walls of the clubhouse.

My WHY is to help others. Because I gave myself permission to follow my WHY years ago, I have been able to help thousands in the baseball and corporate world.

When I travel around the country giving keynote’s for teams or Fortune 500 companies, I always leave the audience with this:

All it takes is 5 minutes to change someone’s life.

What are you doing with your “5 minutes” today?

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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 two Amazon #1 Best Sellers The #GoodBatting Book and Finding Clarity: A Mindful Look Into the Art of Hitting and co-hosts a popular podcast, KWB Radio, that showcases unique conversations with the pros. If you want Kevin to speak at your next corporate event or if you want take advantage of his popular 2-day KWB Experience for players and coaches, contact Kevin today!

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn here, follow him on Twitter @KWBaseball and visit his website at KWBaseball.com.

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