Let me quickly bring you up to speed regarding the free agency saga of Major League Baseball player Bryce Harper. “Harper’s bazaar”, as his agent Scott Boras has dubbed it, has unfolded in spectacular fashion throughout the MLB offseason, and seems to be on the brink of reaching it’s climax in the near future as Harper is expected to sign a record breaking contract sometime in the coming days.
Without getting too much into the MLB free agency rules, or Harper’s notoriety as a baseball prodigy turned MLB phenom (including being drafted with the number one overall pick and then going on to win both the National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards before his 23rd birthday), let’s just say that a player of Harper’s pedigree, proven success, marketable personality, flare for the spotlight, and still young age (he will only be 26 years old during the 2019 season) make him a once in a generation type of free agent.
(Photo from mlb.com -- all rights reserved)
And yet, here we are already several weeks into the start of Spring Training, and just over a month away from the regular season Opening Day (March 28th), and Harper remains unsigned.
I have to ask…why?
Certainly this is a multifaceted situation, and there are enumerable considerations in play both for Harper and the MLB franchises bidding for his services. But still, both Harper and the franchises knew years ago that this would be the offseason when he would become a free agent. Franchises who would be vying for Harper’s services should have had their recruitment plans, talking points and finances ready to go in advance of the offseason starting in November of 2018. Likewise, Harper should have had a specific vision regarding the sort of attributes he would be looking for in a franchise.
So again I ask…what seems to be the holdup?
If I were serving as Bryce Harper’s life coach, I would have met with him several times throughout November to discuss his life/career vision in anticipation of this run through free agency (and beyond). Areas we would have worked through in great detail include:
Awareness: Where are you at in your life?
Faith —> How is your relationship with God? Do you have a life verse? What are your spiritual gifts? How are you using those gifts, and living out that life verse?
Family —> How is your marriage (Harper got married in 2016)? What about your relationship with extended family members and in-laws? What is going well? What are you struggling with?
Impact —> What sort of impact have you made in this world? What sort of impact are you currently making? How does that make you feel?
Career —> How are things going in your career? Are you finding joy/success in what you do? What do you enjoy? What don’t you enjoy? What career goals have you achieved? What career goals have you not yet achieved? How does your wife spend her time?
Finances —> How do you feel about your financial situation? What sort of a lifestyle are you and your wife living? What blessings are you experiencing based on your wealth? What challenges are you experiencing based on your wealth?
Meaning/Purpose —> What is your meaning/purpose in life? What makes you get up in the morning and makes you feel alive? Do you have a mission and/or vision statement for your life? If so, how are you currently living that out?
Vision: Where do you want to go in your life?
Faith —> What are you yearning for in your faith walk? 50 years from now, what do you want to look back and be able to think/feel/say about your faith walk through this earthly chapter of life? What is God calling you to do right now? How can you use the gifts that you have been blessed with to serve God over the next 10-15 years (and beyond)?
Family —> Are you the husband you want to be? How about the husband God wants you to be? Would you and your wife like to have children? What are your thoughts regarding that, and (if so) what kind of a father do you aspire to be? Where do you and your wife want to live right now (both are originally from Las Vegas)? If you are planning to have kids, where do you want to raise them over the next 10-15 years? What kind of lifestyle do you and your wife envision for the next 10-15 years (family life, religious connection/home church, careers, travel, activities, etc.)? 50 years from now, what do you want to look back on your life and think/feel/say about how you lived/shared in the journey with your wife (and possibly kids)?
Impact —> You have been blessed with physical gifts that provide you with a bright/wide spotlight and fame, and with unbelievable financial wealth. What are you going to do with those resources? What impact do you want to make on this world? What do you want your legacy to be?
Career —> Whether you play until you are 50, or suffer a career ending injury tomorrow, when it is all said and done what do you want to have accomplished over the course of your career? What are three off-field accomplishments (not related to how well you play) that you want to achieve during your career?
Finances —> What amount of wealth are you looking to accumulate? What are you planning on doing with it? Can you put a price tag on happiness? What if the highest bidder is the city/franchise that you least want to live/work in? How will you spend it, invest it, share it with others? Do you have (or do you want to start) a foundation of some sort (Harper founded “Harper’s Heroes” in 2013 as a charitable organization that helps children fighting cancer)? If so, what do you want that foundation to accomplish during your lifetime?
Meaning/Purpose —> What is the meaning of your life? For what purpose did God create Bryce Harper to be on this earth, and in the role that you are in at this moment in 2019? It is more than to hit a ball with a stick! When you die, if you could only have one word, or a very short phrase, printed on your tombstone, what would you want it to be?
Strategies/Action-steps: How are you going to get there?
Faith —> What specific things are you going to do to continue to stay connected to, and grow in, your faith? In-season? During the offseason? Private reading and prayer time? A physical in-church worship time? Faith journal?
Family —> How will you make 2019 the best year yet in your marriage? Specific: When? Where? How? How can you stay connected to your wife, and grow in your marriage and as a husband, when you are busy with the travel and commitments associated with an intense baseball season? What are specific steps that you are committed to taking to ensure you THRIVE in this area?
Impact —> What will you do between now and Opening Day (in one month) to lay the foundation for taking the next step towards your goals to make an impact in this world? What will you do each month during the year to continue that progress? Who is a person you can rely on to help you keep the momentum going with this, even if/when you get busy/distracted with other things?
Career —> What are you going to do to continue to grow/improve in your profession? This month? This season? This calendar year? Baseball drills/focuses? Weight room and other physical training? Mental toughness and preparation? Spiritual wellbeing? Goals that are attainable yet make you stretch yourself to achieve them? How will you establish and maintain perspective?
Finances —> What are you looking for in a contract? Does $300 million vs. $330 million vs. $250 million have a significant impact on your financial goals? Yes or No? Why/How? Are there other sponsorship opportunities that could supplement your income if you would want to reach a certain annual salary but the city/franchise that you prefer to live/work in doesn’t offer you the highest average annual value based strictly on the on-field payday? How could you leverage those potential marketing/sponsorship deals? This month, this season, etc.?
Meaning/Purpose —> How can you track how well you are hitting on your goals for understanding and pursing meaning/purpose in your life? Have you used any techniques to reflect on, and grow in, these areas in the past (journaling possibly)?
Obstacles: What could get in the way?
Faith —> What distracts you from complete focus on, and devotion to, your faith?
Family —> How does your lifestyle (famous athlete, traveling a lot) present challenges in your marriage?
Impact —> What has gotten in the way of you reaching your goals for impact?
Career —> How have injuries taken a toll on your on-field performance? What are some potential ways to avoid, or lessen the impact of, injuries?
Finances —> What contractual terms are important to you? Length of years? Overall dollar amount? Average annual value? Front loaded or back loaded paydays? Opt out clauses? State tax rates franchises pursuing you would fall under?
Meaning/Purpose —> How has all the noise (both internal and external) clouded your vision of meaning/purpose in your life? How do you avoid and/or overcome those challenges?
Faith: How does God guide/lead in all aspects of your life?
Faith —> “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Family —> “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body into the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Impact —> “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)
Career —> “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23)
Finances —> “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)
Meaning/Purpose —> “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:13-17)
General Observations: For what they’re worth…
Faith —> Not the top priority, the only priority. How will your decision in free agency reflect this?
Family —> You only get to go through this chapter of life one time. Make it count. Whenever you sign this next contract you will have more than enough money to last you and your family for generations yet to come, even if you sign for less than absolute top dollar. Do not make this decision based on money. Money only goes so far in helping you create and sustain happiness/joy in life. Your wife (and possibly someday kids) will want you there for who you are — not for your money. Sure, money is nice, and it can help with a lot of struggles that many people face in life, but it is not the cure all. Look at how many wealthy and famous people endure life shattering hardships. Suicides, divorces, strained relationships with their children, etc. Those are not things you want in your life. Prioritize your faith and your family above all else, and the rest will work out just fine.
Impact —> We live in a society where entertainers are revered and rewarded with fame and fortune. You have not done anything wrong to have been born with the physical gifts that enable you to hit a ball hard. You have not done anything wrong to have dedicated so much time and attention to maximizing that gift. But, at the end of the day, if you were to conclude your impact at solely the entertainment level (people enjoy watching you hit a ball with a stick) you would be selling yourself (and God, who has blessed you with so many other gifts as well) short. Entertainers 1,500 years ago were jesters who were laughed at, and certainly were not regarded (and rewarded) as the entertainers of this era are. It cannot be all about fame and fortune. Impact far exceeds those ultimately hollow things. Time forgets entertainers. But impact, impact is something different. Impact is making a real/lasting difference in someone else’s life. Impact is changing the course of history.
Impact is, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28) Be great, but remember how Jesus taught us greatness is achieved; through humility, and service to others.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Career —> If the lights went out tomorrow, who would Bryce Harper be? You are a extremely gifted baseball player, but that is not all that you are. Do not define your life by how well you play a game! God doesn’t value you any more or less if you hit .200 or .350, and you shouldn’t either! Play hard, play well, maximize the gifts you have been blessed with, win championships, set records, entertain the fans…but don’t forget who you are, and Whose you are!
Finances —> On your way to the ballpark every day you likely drive past thousands of people who are hungry, homeless, unemployed or struggling to feed their family. Here you are, making approximately 500 times more money each year than the median US family makes. 500 times! I do not wish for you to feel guilty for being blessed with the gifts that you have, or for living in an era where society rewards people of your profession so handsomely, but please be aware that God has blessed you with these gifts. And always remember that with them you have great responsibility to be a good steward of what He has given you.
Work/life balance is a real issue for a lot of people, even the super wealthy. Money can only offset a lack of comfort with surroundings by so much. Find a community, franchise, living situation that suits you and your wife, and then make sure the finances check out. Not the other way around. Don’t let the dollars, and your ego (I once heard Darryl Strawberry give a faith talk where he described ego as "Edging God Out") of wanting to be the highest paid player of all time, make the decision. At some point, enough money is enough money, and the specific amount no longer matters as a deciding factor in the overall prospect of joining a particular franchise and living/working in a particular community.
Meaning/Purpose —> Are you successful (in your faith walk, in your life, in your marriage, in your career, etc.)? Why or Why Not? How do you define success? What do you want your legacy to be?
Certainly there is so much more to Christian life coaching than what was presented in this short example. Bryce, if you read this, I would be honored to serve as your life coach, and to help you THRIVE in all aspects of your life as you continue on your journey. I will leave you with these final words of advice:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
God’s blessings to you as you make your decision!
p.s. There’s always room for you on my home team Brewers if you want to shock the world!!
Coach Shane is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, and an entrepreneur. He is an International Coach Federation (ICF) trained life coach and graduate of the Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC) program through the Christian Coach Institute. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA).
Coach Shane has a heart for helping men, families, professionals, leaders and young adults in their earthly walks as they continue to grow and develop into the family, church, business, and community leaders that God is calling them to become. He does not teach about the Bible or religion as a trained Pastor or Theologian would, but rather relates Christian principles to the everyday walk of earthly life, doing so from a layman’s perspective. Applying a Christian perspective to real life. For more information visit Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC.
PHONE: (920) 428-1564
FACEBOOK: Shane Hansen, Christian Life Coach, LLC