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The F*IT List

May 23rd, 2018

 

By Eric Byrnes

Shortly after my last season playing professional baseball, I began working at MLB Network. Once or twice a month, I would fly between San Francisco and New York City. On the 5-hour flight each way, I had plenty of time to reflect on many of my early life and professional baseball experiences. I eventually began writing down the stories and a few years later I had compiled a pretty epic collection of life experiences.

As you can probably imagine, many of the stories were comical to say the least, yet, no matter what emotion I felt reliving the experiences, the one thing I eventually realized was that each story carried with it some sort of invaluable life lesson. Then, as I transitioned into broadcasting, ultra-endurance sports, and fatherhood, the collection of stories continued to grow, and so did the lessons.

For a long time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the writings. My initial thought was to keep them in the diary form in which they were written, then one day pass them on to my kids.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to run the Western States 100-mile endurance run. A buddy of mine who had done the race before compared running the Western States to “living a lifetime in a day.” He couldn’t have been more right.

As I approached mile 97 of the race at No Hands Bridge, I had an epiphany. Maybe it was because earlier in the race I was sure I was getting stalked by a mountain lion or because I thought I saw an orangutan. It might have been the nasty fall I had around mile 20 or the fact that my feet were so jacked up with cuts and blisters, every step felt like I was running on glass. Regardless, I knew I needed to share what I had just experienced.

Then, in my delusional and incredibly emotional state, I also decided I wanted to share all of the stories I had accumulated. If for no other reason than if just ONE story, or ONE life lesson drawn from a story, is able to put a smile on somebody’s face or motivate somebody to step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves, it will all be worth it.

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When I was in college at UCLA, my roommates and I would playfully argue about who would get the most activities done in a day. Of course, that led to a competition where we got a big ass dry erase board and would actually chart our individual activities throughout the course of the entire day. No doubt, it was a pissing contest with 4 dudes that had way too much testosterone to burn but the list taught me a lot about myself. More than anything, the list taught me about the incredible value of a routine. For the past 20 years now, I have continued to develop and modify the daily list of activities in order to do everything I can to optimize my current lifestyle.

Its name…The F*ck It List.

Because Mom was mortified by the title, I promised to refer to it as The F*It List 🙂

When I played professional baseball, I had the tendency to fly around the outfield and run into a few walls. Early on in my career, Hall of Fame writer and broadcaster Peter Gammons gave me the nickname ‘Human Crash Test Dummy’. It took a while for it to grow on me but just like any obstacle we face in life, we are always much better off embracing it.

So…To Peter Gammons, and all of the original F*It List participants: Mike Seal, Bryan Sidensol, Bob Angus, Eric Valent and Royce Valent…This title is for you dudes.

To Mom, Dad (Double Sky Point) and my sister Shea: Thank you for teaching me how to LIVE my life. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to make mistakes and fail. Thank you for your endless support and unconditional love.

To Tarah: Thank you for being the best wife and mother to our children I could have ever dreamed of. Thank you for your unwavering commitment. Thank you for accepting my many flaws and challenging me to become a better person on a daily basis. It has been a helluva ride…

To Chloe, Cali and Colton: Thank you for teaching me a love so deep I never thought possible. Thank you for continuing to fail and learn from your failures. Thank you for pushing limits and defining your own boundaries. There are only two things in life I will be able to give you that nobody will ever be able to take away: EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE. Always keep learning and NEVER STOP charging.

To everyone else along the way that has made my life difficult: Thank you for that. Without failure and the lessons we are able to learn from failure, we are nothing. Whatever successes in life I have been able to achieve are a direct result of leaping over hurdles. Thank you for being that hurdle.

No matter what I have done in my life, whether it was playing Major League Baseball, performing on TV, competing in Ironman triathlons, running 100 miles, breaking a world record by playing 245 holes of golf in 12 hours or in this case writing a book, I have been and will be critiqued and ridiculed by outsiders in just about every way possible. I am extremely grateful for that. These are the people who have helped me realize there is no sense ever wasting any sort of energy worrying about external opinions and events outside of my control. These opinions and events are what has allowed me to focus all of my effort and energy on what is actually within my immediate control.

When you learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and live a life of vulnerability, you will finally be authentically LIVING YOUR LIFE. As the 26th President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, so brilliantly pointed out…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

F*It…Let’s Go!

To pre-order a copy of Eric’s book, click here.

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