Achieving a Goal Versus Achieving Success: My Take

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I’m currently reading Dan John’s latest opus, 40 Years With a Whistle: Life Lessons From the Field of Play.

I enjoy Dan, and I really enjoy his writing.

One chapter in particular – Chapter 8: Achieving a Goal versus Achieving Success – resonated with me, and I wanted to take today to pontificate, mirror, and expound further on Dan’s message.

Humor me.

Achieving a Goal vs. Achieving Success

As Dan notes:

Achieving a goal and achieving success are not the same thing.”

My life is replete with goals I’ve achieved:

  • Earning an athletic scholarship to play baseball in college.
  • Building a career that pays the bills and doesn’t make me want to throw my face into a brick wall.
  • Finding a life partner that fulfills all my love tanks.
  • Abs.

Conversely, my life is also a bevy of goals that never came to be:

  • Playing professional baseball (so close, though).
  • Asking out Nicole Kot.
  • Becoming the third official member of the “Bash Brothers.”

The thing is though, and this was the umbrella theme of Dan’s chapter, many of our high points in life have nothing to do with achieving a specific goal – realistic or far-fetched.

They have everything to do with marinating in life’s successes.

Here are my top 10 moments in sport (and a few life):

1. 1996 & 1997 – Being Named Team (Pitching) MVP

Not many kids play past the high school level where I’m from (Groton, NY, graduating class, 55. Number of cornfields, 555). I played two years of JUCO ball at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY, which had a highly competitive baseball program.

I chose to go to a community college rather than a four-year school out of high-school because I wanted to increase my chances of getting as much playing time as possible my first two years. I wish more kids and parents today would appreciate the power of actually playing over prestige in choosing a school.

I was named the team (pitching) MVP both my freshman and sophomore year.

This was a big deal given the bulk of my teammates hailed from schools who’s graduating classes were larger than my entire school (7th – 12th grades) and I was very much a small fish in a big pond.

2. April 25, 1996 – OCC: 9, MCC: 1

Our league rival when I was at OCC was MCC (Monroe Community College located in Rochester, NY). Man, were they a bunch of a-holes.

I was handed the rock (pictured above) on April 25, 1996.

I was nervous.

The very first pitch I threw that day was rocketed to right field for a single.

Okay, now I was more than nervous. I destroyed the back of my pants.

I ended up pitching a complete game earning a decisive 9-1 win.

It was a good day.1

3. 2017 – 600 lb Deadlift

Okay, technically, this counts as a goal, but whatever.


The kicker here is that I was finally able to hit this lift after turning 40 AND during my first year of fatherhood.


4. 2006 – Being Intentionally Walked In a Beer League Slow-Pitch Softball Game

When Eric Cressey and I were both working as trainers in Ridgefield, CT we joined a local slow-pitch softball team.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and say Eric and I were the stars of the team, but lets just say the year prior the team didn’t make the play-offs and the year both Eric and I were on the roster the team made it to the championship series.

Eric batted lead-off and I batted fourth in the line-up.

In Game #1 of the best of three series I was intentionally walked in…

…and I can’t stress this enough: SLOW-PITCH SOFTBALL.

Granted, we ended up losing in the third game, but that’s beside the point. My grandchildren (and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren) will forever be reminded of this unprecedented athletic feat.

5. ~1984 – Unassisted Triple Play During Kickball Game

I remember it like it was yesterday.

5th Grade.

We were outside playing our daily game of kickball during recess.

You know, when school’s still had such a thing.

I was playing the outfield right behind second base. Someone kicked a liner right towards me and I caught it in mid-air (Out #1) as I simultaneously stepped on second base (Out #2) to then pivot and throw a dart straight into the back of the runner who was attempting to retreat back to 1st base.

Not today motherfucker.

Out #3.

I was king for a day.

6. 2019: This Past Sunday – Julian Displaying His Rap Skills

Mommy was away having a ladies’ weekend in Florida with a few of her high-school friends.

It was early Sunday morning and Julian and I had a few hours to burn before I took him to gymnastics class. I turned on the Sonos to play some music, KRS-One came on, and this happened…


Proud daddy moment.

7. 2008 – Striking Out 20 Batters in Over-30 Baseball League Game

I joined an over-30 baseball league in 2008.

We had just opened up Cressey Sports Performance the year prior and were starting to see an influx of baseball players coming to train with us.

This led to an itch to play again.

There are several very competitive leagues in or around Boston and I tried out for one of the local teams that year: the Framingham Orioles.

To be honest, I think I was throwing harder at age 31 than I was when I played collegiate ball.

It’s amazing what sound, legitimate training can do.

Anyway, that same year I had also moved in with my then girlfriend. To make a long story short, she broke up with me.

My heart was broken and I happened to have a big game that weekend.

I remember arriving to the game and giving my teammates a heads up that if I seemed a little off, well, “I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.”

I struck out 20 batters that game and gave up one hit.

Apparently sadness, bewilderment, with a sprinkle of rage is a recipe for conjuring up your inner Roger Clemens or Kerry Wood.

8. 1995 – Passing My Driver’s License – On the 3rd Attempt

Attempt #1 – I botched my 3-point turn (put the car into reverse only to then forgot to put it back in drive. When I stepped on the gas again I went into reverse, and then slammed on the brakes. Oops).

Attempt #2 – Nailed the 3-point turn, but botched a bunch of other stuff. Forgetting to use my blinker, going 20 MPH over the speed limit, I don’t remember.

Attempt #3 – It could have gone either way, but I passed.

Boom, chaka-laka.

9. 2015 – Not Flubbing My First Dance

Lisa and I got married on May 30, 2015.

In the weeks prior we hired a choreographer to help us with our first dance as a married couple. We wanted to do something different with a non-traditional song so we felt it best to utilize a professional.

Our song was this version of “Settle Down” by Kimbra.


This was serious business.

We met with our instructor for an hour each week for several weeks.

This in combination with the endless “flash rehearsals” Lisa and I would perform in our kitchen or living room.

Few things intimidated me more than the fear of performing our dance. I was scared I was going to flub it.

1-2-3, twist, 1-2-3, turn right (no, wait, left), 1-2-3, oh shit, 1-2-3, I’m lost, 1-2-3, pity claps from Aunt Celia.

I’m happy to say none of the above happened: Lisa and I turned heads.

We crushed it.

10. 1995 – Hitting a Home-run off a Future 1st Round Draft Pick

In 1994 my high-school varsity team made it to the Section IV Finals in baseball. We had to face one of the best pitchers in the state, Matt Burch of Edison High School in Elmira, NY.

I never batted against him in that game. I was in a bit of a batter’s slump towards the end of that season and while coach still had my play the field (second base) he ended up DH’ing me.

He schooled us, struck out something like 15 batters (in 7 innings), and we lost the game 2-1.

Fast forward to 1995 and the IAC Exceptional Senior All-Star Game.

I was the starting pitcher on my side, and low and behold who was the opposing pitcher on the other?

Matt Burch of Edison High School.

Matt had another dominant season that year and was drafted in the late rounds by the Boston RedSox.2He would end up going to Virginia Commonwealth to play college ball and be drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1st road in 1998.3

Even though I was the starting pitcher I was also batting second in the line-up that day.

In the first inning I dug myself into the batter’s box and ran the count up to 2-2. Matt threw the next pitch, and with my eyes closed I swung and made contact!

I sprinted towards first base and as I was rounding it to head towards second the umpire got my attention to let me know I could slow down…

…I had hit a home-run.

You would be correct if you guessed the first person I called after the game was my coach…;o)

Dan’s Sage Words

In closing, I leave you with a quote from Dan’s original article:

“If you are striving for just achieving goals, I’m not always going to be able to help you. Your DNA, discipline and luck might be far more important than me saying, “two sets of five.”

But success?

I have always wanted health, fitness, longevity and performance as part of my life. What you see on my list is six decades of competitions. But, the competitions and the trophies pale when compared to the friendships, the love and the fun.”

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. And I didn’t need my AK.

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