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hank aarron
his keys to "get in the zone"
by jane dode
6.17.10
sports

Key Factor #1: Passion and Purpose
Like the other sports legends, Hank Aaron was able to recognize his purpose for his particular passion at a young age. This passion was the driving force that manifested throughout his childhood, as evidenced by him practicing and playing the game of baseball for countless hours everyday throughout his childhood. He stated in his autobiography, I Had a Hammer, that during his childhood, “There wasn’t much else that could keep me from playing ball. If nobody was around to get up a game or to play catch with, I’d find ways to play by myself. “I could spend hours hitting a ball with a stick or throwing it on the roof and hitting it or catching it when it came down” (1).

Hank believes that most of his childhood experiences helped prepare him for his purpose of playing baseball. However, the higher purpose for his life, which I believe Hank would agree with, was higher than playing baseball. Baseball was a tool and platform for Hank, which placed him in position to be heard and help the human race in other ways.

Hank Aaron minimizes his baseball accomplishments while emphasizing his contributions to the equality of all races and his concern for the coming generations. He continues to strive and serve as an ambassador and role model in regards to these issues.

Key Factors #2: Determination and Focus
These key factors involve his amazing ability to endure and overcome tremendous adversity. His autobiography, I Had a Hammer, is a must read for any person, in any field of work, who thinks they are facing insurmountable challenges. This autobiography had me in awe of what he had to overcome to even survive in professional baseball, much less to become the greatest home run hitter ever.

Yes, I am writing this in 2010, and I am not ignorant of the record books, but I will leave that topic alone. However, I realize how it must sadden Hank Aaron to come to grips with players who degrade his accomplishments by taking short-cuts through “sports enhancing drugs.”

He is one of the most amazing athletes and human beings in regards to courage, determination, and focus. Not many athletes today have any idea of what it is like to be called derogatory names everyday by fans, opposing teams, and even his own teammates, like he had to endure (1).

The classless, racial, name-calling which he went through is just the tip of the iceberg, considering the numerous death threats he had, as he walked onto what was called the “white mans” playing field. He continued to play, despite the fact that he admits he would have rather quit than go through this horrific experience in professional baseball (1). He made a choice to play so that future generations of African American athletes and children may be encouraged and afforded better opportunities to pursue his or her passion.

Key Factor #3: Choosing Correct Role Models and Mentors
Everyone recognizes that Jackie Robinson was one of the main catalysts that enabled African Americans to play professional baseball. However, few know that Hank Aaron was one of the few African Americans who dared to take the baton from Jackie and continue the race against prejudice, injustice, and racism in baseball.
Hank Aaron looked up to Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis who took a stand during this awful period of racial ignorance (1). Hank even had the opportunity to meet Jackie Robinson after Jackie finished his career. Thank God Jackie encouraged Hank to continue the fight against racism and continue to play baseball, or who knows where we would be today.

White people, in general, thought that African Americans were either dangerous or silly performing servants, during Hank’s era playing baseball. One of the best ways to change this mindset was through the avenue of professional sports, which requires mental, physical and spiritual fortitude and supremacy. Therefore, men like Hank, Joe Louis, and Jessie Owens left it almost impossible to argue that one race has supremacy over another. Whoever argues differently shows his or her stupidity. I would have written ignorance, but ignorance is different than stupidity. Ignorance is when someone does not know the facts. Stupidity is knowing the facts, and choosing to ignore them.

Hank Aaron’s career is not only a credit to the African American race, but also to the human race. Hank Aaron most likely would not have made the difference he did, if he had not chose to follow the advice and example of the few people who were an encouragement for him to do what seemed impossible. Who you listen to and follow is a personal choice that you must always make throughout your life. He chose to listen and follow only the few positive supporters, rather than the many individuals who opposed and spoke against him. Few people today can even imagine what a daunting mental challenge this must have been to go through on a daily basis.

Key Factor #4: Humility and Self Sacrifice
Hank Aaron is an example to all people on how to conduct your attitude through the good and bad times in life. He did not allow the worst of times to discourage him or he may have thrown in the towel and quit. Eventually, becoming the greatest home run hitter in history, he still never lost his humility and noble character. He is an example to others of how to remain stable through the worst and best of times. Public recognition and praise can be as dangerous as conflict and opposition.

In many great athletes’ careers throughout history, I have watched and read one of the main reasons I believe these athletes fell from his or her previous extraordinary level of great play. This negative factor, which often leads to defeat, is called pride. Indeed, “pride comes before the fall.” It is dangerous to listen to those who try to tear you down but few realize it is just as dangerous to listen to the praises of the multitude. Hank Aaron remained the same because he did not allow the opinions of people to determine his worth, nor determine what he could or could not do.

Reference
(1) Aaron H. & Wheeler, L. (1991). I Had a Hammer: The Hank Aaron Story. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishing.


ABOUT JANE DODE

I have two books published which are based on my fascination, education, and experience in the world of psychology. I teach psychology at the University of Phoenix and I have had over 20 years experience counseling young and old people in different settings. One of my books is under an anonymous name because I reveal the deep dark secrets of the locked down acute care mental hospitals I worked at. This is my favorite book because of the variety of humor, fright and sad stories as well as the unknown politics of the mental health system. My other book How to Get in Zone was based on my personal search of what it really meant and how to get in the zone. I studied and read the biographies of th

more about jane dode

IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...

how to get in the zone
living the abundent life
by jane dode
topic: sports
published: 6.9.10





COMMENTS

brandi kelley
6.17.10 @ 12:14p

You make some valid points with these key factors. I can see how being teachable, focused and having role models can help anyone to become the person that he or she desires to become. I liked how you used athletes to demonstrate your points in a manner that everyone would be able to relate to. The general population views the attitudes and behaviors of these athletes daily, and your book makes it easy to understand why some players (Rasheed Wallace) behaves so poorly, while other athletes behave calm and relaxed in stressful situations (Armando Galarraga). I am interested in learning more from this book.

jane dode
6.17.10 @ 12:26p

Thank you for your kind comments. It is really amazing to see that every "superstar" in sports history all shared the same common characteristics and habits on his or her road to success.



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