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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

3/12/22 : Being Me

Mental toughness allows folks to persevere thru times and situations where things aren’t going well. It’s an especially important attribute in professional baseball where a bad performance can elicit negative reactions from observers.

Recently I let perceived negative words from an individual effect my desire and ability to do two things I’m passionate about - watch and write about Phillies baseball. I’ve long suffered from instances of self doubt and depression - it can drive me into a somber state of not interacting or responding to others. It impacts me to be even more self deprecating than is my norm.

Being mocked for taking a “glass half full” approach in regards to what was described as a “cookie cutter” baseball system is something that unfortunately I took to heart and let effect me into recent multiple days of depression. Unfortunately my wounded spirit not only effects me but also those around me, those that I consider as friends and those I love deal with my self isolation and sullenness. No matter how much I eventually apologize when I pull myself back up the impact is made.

It’s an internal battle to overcome this type of despair - many athletes have brought it to the forefront in recent times - Lane Johnson of the Eagles comes to mind. Regardless of the vile that was shown to Ben Simmons this week I sympathize with his dilemma as I have experienced similar self doubts throughout both my life and professional career.

Words and attitude do matter. It’s not to say that feedback must always be positive but criticism is not helpful in condescending form either. I led or was part of key leadership of significant projects of world impact during my times at Wyeth and Pfizer - criticism was certainly part of the equation but those who did so unprofessionally or because of self interest would eventually learn to seek employment elsewhere. Those who made valid substantiated points often found those observations incorporated and even roles for themselves in the equation. Being a yes person isn’t predicated for success, yet having the ability to make differing opinion known without importing hurt is.

I began to write about Phillies baseball when I retired from corporate life with perhaps the naive ideology that I could impact lives by highlighting and writing about Phillies player development. It’s an area often criticized by those who’ve seen far less practices and games than I have. It’s many times knee jerk reactions by uniformed people to isolated performances such as this past week.

Player development is indeed a process, the ability to build talent takes time, patience, perseverance, attitude and coaching. Performance is also properly measured over time, not in instances. And yes skill sets are varied amongst players, yet I always look for the positives of each and encourage them. I have never been a Phillies employee - yet for the past six years I’ve interacted with many and even some of their families. Poor performances have been opportunities to reflect and/or correct while good ones allow for encouraging upbeat feelings. The Phillies Mental skills coaches cover the full gamut and they do good work - my small import has been to reach out to players and families after both good and bad outings. It’s also hopefully reflected in my writing when I review players.

So - I write this article as much as self therapy as I do to explain my recent wandering. I’ve had a few player family members and others reach out to me in recent days - they are usually the first to notice when my writings are absent.

I received the following remarks :

“You have a gift for sharing. Baseball has always been my happy place. It’s why I love the way you write happy day, happy baseball. You are appreciated”.

“Many of us have always enjoyed your positive attitude toward the minor league guys struggles and triumphs. Hopefully one person doesn't ruin a great outlet you give many of us true fans.”

“My wife and I appreciate you and how you keep us informed on how our son is doing. Know that you are respected.”

“The reach you have with the kids and their families is special, and I know that means a lot to you. You keep them positive and engaged. Whether the Phillies or anyone else knows it, it’s a fact.”

Those words are indeed heartwarming yet I continue to struggle to disallow the negativity of some others have impact. In the past six years I’ve decided to quit writing so many times even I’ve lost count - each time I’ve forged on after being uplifted by positive feedback - it’s always been the case that the positive feedback has outweighed the negative. Perhaps subconsciously I seek the validation.

Maybe I’ll be able to disavow and move on once again - am not there just yet. Whether I continue to write publicly or not eventually I will get back to a Happy Day, Happy Baseball state of mind - my wife is an Angel and is a tremendous friend and support person - I Iove her dearly.

Hope you all have a great day and that you are able to help others do so as well - words and actions matter indeed. Please keep that in mind.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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I understand how negative feedback about one’s writing can be very discouraging, but if you reach, or entertain, or teach something new to even one person it is worth your effort. I’ve always thought that my reward was enjoying the act of writing, and the satisfaction of finishing a project that I thought was “good.”

Your readers look forward to hearing from you every day, and that’s pressure. There’s no harm in giving yourself a break—especially if it will improve your frame of mind when you resume. I admire that you shared your inner demons with us.

Because of your columns, I have decided to give baseball a chance again this year. I will also make it a point…

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