The Upward Climb - Daniel Norris

I’ve never been one to start New Year’s resolutions; instead, I look at life as one big upward hill that I want to keep climbing. In life, you never stop climbing, and I want to be continually improving in every area of my life. 

One area I want to be intentional about this year is connecting with fans. It’s not that I’m standoffish, but I’m definitely introverted. There are times when I want to step away from fans, but what a great opportunity this could be for me to witness for Christ! I admit this is an area in which I’ve definitely swung and missed many times. 

From one perspective, when fans are stopping players on the field during practice or after workouts, they are creating a distraction — keeping them from becoming great. But from another perspective, aren’t they why we’re here? I recently saw an interview with a player who was being hounded by a reporter. But the player patiently gave his time to the crowds and gave the reporter real answers. He handled it so well; I was convicted. 

Having been in the league for a few years now, I recognize there are times of tunnel mode. These are times when I’m so focused on my work that nothing can pull me away.  My work ethic is something I take great pride in. But I’m getting to the point where I see that I’ve been around Detroit fans for a while. I can certainly take a moment, get out of my comfort zone, and give of myself. 

I often see players who are all about this. They’re very outgoing and eat up time with the fans. That’s not me. I’ve never sought this out, or necessarily desired it. These players are good at this; I’m not. It takes more intentionality on my part to interact with fans, but it is a way I can serve others and share the love of Christ. Even if I’m not talking to them about God directly, hopefully they can see God through my words and actions. 

Part of the upward climb is pouring myself into the game, too. I don’t necessarily make certain personal goals for myself each season, as far as stats and numbers go. I don’t want to see the game purely with selfish motives, nor do I want to set myself up for failure, but I do keep climbing. If I can walk out of the weight room each day and look at myself in the mirror to say, “You’ve gotten better today,” I see that as success. Last year I had such a great year — I stayed healthy, played more, and had pretty good numbers for myself. But even on the days I didn’t gain the numbers I hoped for, I could walk off the field and feel good about the game because I knew I overcame obstacles and got better as a player. I helped the bullpen; I stayed in the game.

Keeping a positive, healthy perspective, even in the midst of seemingly negative circumstances, is a game changer. I’m not about just saying it, I’m about doing it. So one step at a time, I’m going to keep moving.

— Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers pitcher

Daniel Norris is a regular contributor to The Increase and provides monthly articles and opinions. Check out Daniel’s Increase profile here: 

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