There’s no question that Bubba Starling heard the doubters who grew louder with each season he spent in the minor leagues. Many openly speculated about how long the Kansas City Royals would hold on to their million-dollar investment before they swallowed their loss and moved on. I’m sure that Bubba himself wondered the same thing as he struggled through eight years of not meeting the expectations of the pundits, let alone the expectations he had of himself.
Those expectations were astronomical when the Royals signed him, straight out of high school, with the fifth overall draft pick. The $7.5 million signing bonus he received guaranteed that he wouldn’t escape the scrutiny that came with those expectations. When he signed, it seemed like a win for all sides. It’s unlikely that anyone saw the eight years of struggle ahead.
It would have been easy for Bubba to quit and fade off into anonymity, effectively quieting the critics, but he didn’t. He expected great things of himself, and persisted until he reached those expectations.
Most of us will never experience the pressure of expectations as high as those placed on professional athletes. Our expectations instead will come from the individual we see in the mirror each morning.
Nate Lashley always believed that he could succeed as a professional golfer, but his results seemed to indicate otherwise. In fact, the professional golf world had virtually written him off, until he won his first PGA event earlier this summer. It was a highly unlikely win for the golfer who had to play his way in and missed qualifying by a couple of strokes. In fact, he didn’t get into the last spot (156th) in the tournament, until a qualified golfer backed out when his clubs didn’t make the flight. When Nate teed off on the first day of the four-day tournament, he was ranked 353rd in the PGA.
A few years back, discouraged by his lack of success, Nate had quit professional golf and started working in real estate. He admitted, in hindsight, that he probably wasn’t ready for professional golf when he began his career. His parents and girlfriend had died in a tragic plane crash just before he turned professional, and he struggled dealing with that loss while trying to compete at a high level.
His hiatus from golf didn’t last long, as he had high expectations for the guy he saw in the mirror each morning. Those expectations took him to PGA tournaments where he was forced to play his way in, like he did the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic. There aren’t a lot of outside expectations when you tee off in the 156th spot. Most of those golfers are hoping that they make the cut at the end of the second day, which qualifies them for prize money.
Nate took the lead on that first day, and never lost it over the four-day event. I imagine that he survived and maintained the lead because of the strong expectations he had for himself. He knew that he could do it, even when there were many others who doubted him. Now, he has a $1.314 million dollar check and a PGA card that will ensure his entry into events until the end of the 2020-21 season. Now, he knows that he belongs.
Bubba too has ascended quickly, after his slow climb into the big leagues. He is now a regular starter, and has even hit a couple of home runs and made some spectacular defensive plays, https://www.mlb.com/video/statcast-starling-s-sick-defense. None of it would have been possible if he didn’t believe in and stay true to the expectations he had for himself.
Expectations come from many sources, but none are more important than those that come from within. By setting high expectations for ourselves, we challenge ourselves to be the best that we can possibly be. Don’t wait for others to do that for you. Set your own expectations, and SET THEM HIGH!