Jim Abbott, a professional baseball player and motivational speaker, says the key to overcoming is the ability to adapt. He talked about how individuals and companies can overcome obstacles and challenges during today’s keynote address at Auto Glass Week™ in Tampa, Fla.
He had a word for each letter of adapt— Adjustibility, determination, accountability, persistence and trust.
“Being born this way and growing up this way [without a hand], I knew how to be different,” Abbott said.
He was born September 19, 1967, in Flint, Mich., without a right hand. He went on to become an all-American hurler at the University of Michigan, won the Sullivan Award in 1987, and was the pitcher for the Gold Medal Olympic Team in 1988. He spent 10 seasons playing for four different teams and threw a 4-1 no-hitter for the New York Yankees versus Cleveland (September 4, 1993).
“One of my favorite memories was Spring Training with the Angels. … In the top of everybody’s locker was this plastic case of baseball cards. … As cool as it is to get a card with your picture on it, at some point you have to turn it over. So not as cool for the veterans,” Abbott said.
“There were great years and great trials, but also great adversity,” he adds.
“What is it that I took away from the game?” Abbott asked. “What can I share with you today? It’s our ability to adapt. … Great challenge can come with great success and greater challenges and pressure. … What are you going to do about challenges?”
Optimism is key, according to Abbott. By making small changes, he found ways to do things that can easily to others, such as the football snap.
“I was doing what I wanted to do and I learned to fit in. I had great people who taught me,” Abbott pointed out. “When you do things differently and step out there is bound to be pessimism. … For everybody who encouraged me there were others who doubted me.”
“I believe that it’s mental toughness,” he points out. “It can be cultivated and nurtured.”
“I look back at all those years of playing major league baseball and what a great time,” Abbott said.
In 1996, he lost 18 games.
“I want on a downhill spiral,” he said. “… I was sent down to the Minor Leagues for the first time.”
After getting released, Abbott took about a year off and then went back into training. He got signed to work for a farm team in the Minor Leagues and after several promotions and being bounced around the country, the Chicago White Sox welcomed him back to the major leagues.
Abbott said perseverance is vital in life.
“My little hand has taught me great lessons and that work isn’t always easy,” Abbott said.
Auto Glass Week is being held at the Tampa Convention Center and Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina this week. It continues through Friday. Stay tuned to www.glassBYTEs.com™ for the latest from the event throughout the week.