Norton: When we find the zone, we find success |

Norton: When we find the zone, we find success

“Play ball!” As Major League Baseball celebrates another opening day this week, there will be 15 ceremonial first pitches, and 15 official first pitches. Whether we are baseball fans or not, we all understand what the first pitch is and how we typically see a celebrity or local hero invited to throw that first ceremonial baseball before the game gets underway.

The pitcher of the home team will have the responsibility of throwing the first pitch to officially start the game. They have worked hard in the offseason and spring training. And they have studied their opponent’s lineup, coming up with a game plan with their coaches and catcher to determine which pitch to throw to each batter and in each situation. However, the first thing they must do is get that first pitch in play as adrenaline and anxiousness compete for the athlete’s mindset and physicality.

Odds are strongly in the pitcher’s favor that the first pitch of the season will not be a home run. Their primary goal is to toss a strike or put the ball in play for an easy out. Early confidence builders are always helpful in any sport, and in anything we are doing in life.

Now let’s think about the other side of this. There is a Major League Baseball player standing in the batter’s box 60 feet, 6 inches away. And depending on the reach of the pitcher and velocity at which he throws, that distance could seem so much shorter. The batters have also worked hard in the offseason and spring training. They too have studied the tendencies of their opponent. Do they throw fastballs, or breaking balls? How does the ball move as it leaves their hand? So much to think about as their adrenaline and anxiousness compete for their mindset and physicality as they step up to the plate.

For both, it’s about getting into the zone. And that is exactly what we should be doing, as we get into our zone. With so much talk about breaking out of our comfort zone, we should never compromise that comfort zone if it gives us the confidence that we need to achieve success in whatever it is we are pursuing. If we identify that our comfort zone is holding us back, then the encouragement is to break through and break out to advance toward the achievement of our goals.

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When we think about preparing for success, do we allow the right amount of adrenaline and anxiousness to keep us in shape, motivated and ready to go? Are we ready for the first pitch wherever it may be coming from? Are we tapping into some of our positive nervous energy to face any opposition who is standing in the batter’s box of life? Are there opportunities we are pursuing where we know just how important our first pitch or swing will be?

A typical baseball season is 162 games long, plus the post-season. It is referred to as a marathon and not a sprint. No matter what the records show at the end of April, whether their team is off to a great start or they are at the bottom of their division, fans will say, “There is still a lot of baseball to be played.” And this is very true, for baseball teams, and each one of us. No matter how our year has begun, there is still a lot of life to be played. And right now, here at the beginning of April, we can get ready mentally and physically to toss that first pitch or stand in the batter’s box and be prepared to take our first swing.

Is it time for you to get back into the zone? Time to deliver your first pitch or take your first swing? I would love to hear your story and plans for success for the balance of 2021 at And when we can get ourselves back into the zone, it really will be a better than good year.

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