MAJORS or Minors?

I have frequently used the Gswede Phrase, “Are you playing in the MAJORS or Minors”, when asking certain friends about their lifestyle. Often it is delivered in a joking way yet there is usually an element of seriousness as I wanted them to reflect upon their life.

For the non-sports fan, allow me to explain my phrase.

In baseball, the better players perform in the MAJOR leagues, which is the highest professional league for the sport. They travel on charter jets, make fantastic money, have good looking wives, enjoy numerous perks and often have great sponsorship deals. In addition, temptation is always at their doorstep.

The baseball players not talented enough to play at the aforementioned level play in the Minor leagues. Buses provide their transportation and they stay in plain motels. In addition, the money pales in comparison to the MAJORS and many have dreams of reaching the top; most never do. Temptation is creeping around at this level as well.

Let’s equate baseball to the world of most people; those like you and me. If we do that, a person either plays in the MAJORS or Minors. No one plays in both!

In simple terms, MAJORS means living a high quality life while Minors is a significantly lower level.

Those that play in the MAJORS (from my experience):

An ethical person who enjoys a life that they wanted or are happy with. This typically involves those who have serious goals, dreams and ambitions yet more importantly follow through on their desires (with hard work) until they are achieved.

Common elements in this crowd are trust, loyalty, strong work ethic and responsiblity. They tend to be family-oriented, ambitious and positive as well as maximizing their benefits in life. People in this group who I admire are those who embrace living a life on their own terms. Obstacles are present for these individuals although the MAJOR leaguer will always battle until the barriers are knocked down or removed. Money can be an advantage in living a MAJOR league life but having wealth doesn’t automatically put one in the MAJORS. I know some wealthy people who will NEVER be in the MAJOR league category due to their selfish lifestyle.

In my opinion, no life is successful without an element of helping others thus all MAJOR leaguers share this characteristic.

Those that play in the Minors (from my experience):

A person who is NOT living the life they wanted, NOT living up to their potential or NOT happy with life. Some common elements of a Minor league life can include one or more of the following:

-- Dreaming and Never doing

-- Negativity

-- Lack of focus

-- Not “putting in the time” to achieve ambitions or goals

-- Not working HARD for desires

-- Living life for others or having others hold you down

-- Living life unethically or irresponsibly

-- Having a “ME” only attitude

-- Solely concerned with making money

-- Choosing Unwisely for marriage, love or friendship

-- Not being ready for love when it presents (and it will) itself

-- Not changing a pattern that isn’t working

-- Not appreciating what you have

I understand some of the reasons why people are not happy or satisfied with life; one being that life is difficult (for some truly difficult) yet that is no reason to hold one’s head down, be depressed or act irresponsibly.

Most of my close friends play in the MAJORS although I have a few (including some acquaintances) who toil in the Minors. One common thread that the Minors share is dreaming while at the same time not doing what it takes to be successful.

Those who dream BIG (which is important) yet find themselves never rising to the level of their desires tend not to “put in the time” it takes to lead a MAJOR league life. We could all learn from Larry Bird, one of the best professional basketball players of all time. He said that he was guilty of “trash talking” to opponents but he could back it up since he “put in the time” to become a great player.

Every MAJOR leaguer I know has worked hard to be successful and continues to do so in order to stay there. Life should be about consistent growth so one can achieve their goals. There will always be pitfalls and obstacles but a MAJOR leaguer is ready to battle any tough times when they appear.

One of my dearest American friends began his life like a shining star by moving to Europe at a young age (mid 20’s). That boldness impressed me and others! He enjoyed 7 successful years before moving back to New York City (NYC). I visited him in Europe and enjoyed a week that ranks in the top 10 of my life! He had it all; good friends, great apartment, a strong network and a quality job. His life was exciting and fulfilling and I was extremely happy for him because it was obvious that he worked hard to achieve his lifestyle.

When he moved back to the USA he lost his way.

He arrived in NYC in 1997 and it was clear early on that his BIG dreams outweighed his sound judgement and work ethic. He went from a sizzling steak to a prune in what seemed to be overnight. In the following years, there were some circumstances that helped to create a perfect storm for his downward spiral but with his intelligence and previous background, his friends expected him to bloom in the Big Apple. His biggest mistakes were laziness, lack of focus and disregard for opportunity; mistakes one can ill afford in one of the greatest and most challenging cities in the world.

Those that care have tried to guide and counsel him toward a productive lifestyle change but to no avail. Maybe we weren’t tough enough as friends should be although our efforts were sincere. In 2009, his life is in worst shape then in 1997.

His history in NYC is a wonderful illustration of how a life can go from the MAJORS to the Minors in the blink of an eye. It can happen to anyone especially with the temptations that life offers when you are in the MAJORS. The lesson learned is that we should never forget the steps taken in rising to the MAJOR league level.

My friend displayed admirable traits when he planned and made the move to Europe. He succeeded by working hard, focusing, learning the language, engaging new people and embracing opportunity. I realize that NYC is a tougher place than almost any other yet all he had to do was remember what made him sparkle in Europe and he would have conquered Manhattan like Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour.

Despite 12 years of going downhill, he is still young enough to get off the Titanic and steer his ship in a positive direction. One thing he needs to do is leave NYC, something I have asked him to ponder on numerous occasions. Leaving may be his last chance to get back in the MAJORS. If not, he could face another 12 years of hardship. I hope he makes the right choice.

To live a high quality life, one should strive to:

-- Work Hard and be relentless to get into the MAJORS
-- Work Even Harder to stay in the MAJORS
-- Battle ferociously when life attempts to push you to the MINORS
-- Rise Up, “put in the time” and Focus to get out of the MINORS

One of my favorite quotes in never far from my thoughts:

The antidote to envy is one's own work. Always one's own work. Not the thinking about it. Not the assessing of it. But the doing of it.
--Bonita Friedman

MAJORS or Minors? – The choice is yours.

What league do you play in?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's uncle on a fine spring day in Stockholm - His MAJOR league life in California has provided wonderful moments for me.

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