Recently, a twelve year old New Jersey Little League pitcher pitched a perfect game. For those of you who are not baseball fans, a perfect game occurs when a pitcher retires every batter in a game, without any of them reaching base. It is one of the rarest feats in baseball and it is a game that the pitcher will never forget.
The Little League pitcher threw out the ceremonial first pitch in a professional game featuring the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals. Moreover, the pitcher has appeared on weekday morning television shows and even been the subject of conversation on ESPN.
Yes, even for kids, a perfect game is a big deal. That said, several perfect games are thrown every year in Little League baseball games. Why, you might ask, is this particular perfect game getting so much attention? In this case, the pitcher was twelve year old Mackenzie Brown – a girl playing a game that is usually reserved for boys. More importantly, she is a girl who – for at least that one game – “put a real hurting on the boys” (as one of my old coaches would have said).
Young Mackenzie Brown is not the first female to challenge males in sports that are usually dominated by men. Manon Rhéaume briefly played hockey for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Ashley Baker (Framingham State) and other young women have been place kickers on men’s college football teams. Danica Patrick races with men and is always competitive – handling a lot more vehicle than most men could begin to handle.
Each of these women has challenged a stereotype and succeeded, just as many women before them have successfully challenged stereotypes in board rooms and operating rooms. If we look around at our culture in the United States, much of the past century has been marked by different segments of the population challenging the status quo and proving that the status quo was wrong. Even if they have not completely been broken, the barriers that our society imposes on minorities, women, members of the gay community and members of the handicapped community, are all coming down.
Isn’t it time for you to start challenging the status quo and breaking down the barriers to success that you have experienced? Have you been limited by parents who have told you that you couldn’t do something because you were not smart or athletic? Are you working in a dead end job because you are afraid that a dead end job is better than a job in which you might fail? Is lack of a formal education holding you back? Is your physical appearance impeding your success?
Whatever limitations you have experienced in the professional world, only you can remove them. More importantly, you can only remove the obstacles to personal success by identifying them and admitting that they need to be removed.
Education: You are never too old to go back to school. Whether you find a traditional four year program or go to community college or vocational school, you can always improve your qualifications through education.
Appearance: Look at your wardrobe. Can you make some improvements to your clothing so that you will look more presentable at work? You do not need designer clothes to look your best. You just need to take the time to find clothes that look good on you. Similarly, could you lose a few pounds or go to the gym in order to improve your appearance. We do not need to be models in order to succeed in business but we do need to look like we care about our appearance.
Relationships: Are people in your life holding you back? If you are in relationships that are not healthy and supportive, you need to consider whether you really need the relationships. If you need the relationship, even though it is not perfect, you should consider seeking counseling so that the negatives resulting from an unhealthy relationship can be balanced.
What is holding you back? Why aren’t you in the place that you want to be? What barriers to success do you need to overcome? How will you do it?