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Swing for the Fence

I was recently looking for something on YouTube, and as seems to be the case for me over the past few years, something popped up that was right on point for me and reminded me of so many positive things.

It was a mix of videos of a speech that I understand Denzel Washington has given at different places, in particular Colleges in the US. I have always liked his movies, but I never knew he also did motivational speeches. I have included the link to the video at the end of this post.

Note that some parts are repetitive but listen to the end if you can. It goes for about 22 minutes so it’s kind of perfect for the drive to the office or home, or at lunch if you’re working from home.

He speaks about many things, including how to motivate yourself, knowing that at some stage in your life you will fail but do your best and never give up. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve got, but more importantly, make the most of it and reach your dreams.

One part that seemed a little morbid, but was a great point was a reference he made to an analogy from Les Brown who is a motivational speaker. The analogy was about fulfilling your dreams, your ambitions and potential.

He said:

“imagine that you’re on your death bed and standing around you are the ghosts representing your unfulfilled potential, the ideas you never acted on, the talents you didn’t use. They’re standing around your bed angry, disappointed, and upset. They say, we came to you because you could have brought us to life, and now we have to go to the grave together.”

Denzel’s next question is key:

“So I ask you today, how many ghosts are going to be around your bed, when your time comes?”

Ok, I told you it was a bit morbid, but an interesting way to look at it.

I remember when I was growing up, it seemed a common thing for my neighbours across the street, and for many people in Australia, to sit at the front of their house and reminisce. I was always playing cricket or doing something like that when they would call me across for a chat. I would always ask them what they were doing and a lot of the time they said they were reminiscing about their life, how proud they are of their children, that they’ve had a good life and fulfilled what they wanted to do.

My dad reminded me of this recently when he said, “I could not want of anything more…” when reminiscing about life.

This experience has helped me take a similar approach to the analogy mentioned above. I think, when I’m sitting reminiscing in my mid to late 60’s, having probably finished my working life (I’m not pre-empting this because I’m the type of person that will likely never stop), what do I want to be proud of? How can I make sure that I look at everything in my life at that time knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, chased my ambitions, and ultimately reached my goals and made those dreams come true?

I know already I will be so proud of my 2 beautiful children Jordan and Sienna. They’re my life and I just need to do everything I can to help them be the best they can be and have opportunities to have an even better life than me. For the parents reading this, we all know this is our hope and drive, and it takes so much work to achieve, but that’s just what being a parent is, right. I’m still learning everyday how to do this better.

The only way I know is to be positive, optimistic, and not leave any ambition or potential unfulfilled. Have a go with purpose and do the best I can on everything I do. Easier said than done I know, but it will be worth the effort.

Denzel mentioned something about not giving up and getting up after you fall. He said, “fall down 7 times, get up 8”. That makes so much sense and I have realised from talking to more and more people over the past 2 years, as we live through this interesting time, that almost everyone has had to adapt, had difficulties and challenges, and perhaps fallen more than once in recent times. The key is getting up and carrying on.

In terms of giving it everything, I used to say to my team in Hong Kong and in previous roles: If you want to hit that massive home run in baseball that clears the fence and gives you that massive happiness and elation, you need to swing hard and give it everything you’ve got. The same applies in cricket for hitting that big 6 straight down the ground over the bowler’s head, on the last ball to win the game. Or kicking that goal in AFL/AFLW from outside the 50, on the siren to win by a point. You need to be focused, give it everything, swing hard for the fence and connect with purpose to make it happen.

The same approach applies in life and with work. Having a purpose, facing challenges head on, working collaboratively as a team, and fulfilling your potential and ambitions are so important to ensure you give yourself every chance to reach your goals and dreams. It takes hard work for sure, and you can never sit back and hope someone will just give it to you, you need to work hard and earn it.

“How many ghosts do you want around you when your time comes?”, “Fall down 7 times, get up 8”, or be proud that you gave it everything and reached your dreams when reminiscing when you retire, are nice ways to look at life, especially when things are as challenging as they’ve been over the past few years.

I believe chasing those ambitions, fulfilling that potential in a positive and purposeful way by giving it everything is the way to reach those dreams. Be the best that you can be, don’t leave anything unfulfilled, and always, always, swing for the fence…  

You can find the video of Denzel Washington’s speech at: Denzel Washington's Life Advice Will Change Your Future (MUST WATCH) Motivational Speech 2020 - YouTube 

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author. This article provides general information, does not constitute advice and should not be relied upon as such. Professional advice should be sought prior to any action being taken in reliance on any of the information.