The young pitcher stood on the mound on the baseball field and looked towards the batter. His veteran catcher crouched down behind home plate and went through a series of signs. He flashed his index finger to indicate that he wanted the hurler's best pitch: a fastball. The young pitcher nodded, took a deep breath, adjusted his fingers around the ball in his glove, went into his windup and fired the ball to the catcher. Strike One. It was late in the game and with his team up by 1 run, the young pitcher was restless. He had never thrown a complete game, much less a shutout. The catcher nodded with approval at the accomplishment, tossed the ball back to the pitcher and started the process over again. This time the catcher wanted an off-speed pitch: a changeup. The young pitcher again nodded, took a deep breath, adjusted his fingers differently around the ball, started his windup and pitched the ball. With the same arm speed and angle, the pitch looked like another fastball and fooled the batter into swinging at a ball that broke down and out of the strike zone. Strike Two. The catcher was pleased and pointed back at the pitcher in another sign of praise. He lobbed the ball back to the pitcher and went into another set of signs. He signified that he wanted another fastball. The young pitcher thought long and hard. Three innings ago he had struck the same batter out with a curveball. He already had him guessing and wanted to throw the same curveball that got the batter out the last time. He shook off the initial sign from the experienced catcher and stared back in. His catcher started a new sequence of signs and showed the sign for a curveball. For a moment, the pitcher had second thoughts, but then nodded yes. He adjusted his fingers on the ball and started his windup. Somewhere in the process he thought about the decision: was this pitch a good idea? The curveball was his second-best pitch after all... but it caught the same batter off guard the last time. Thinking led to doubt. Doubt led to fear. Fear led to a flawed process. Instead of resetting and starting over, he kept going and let his mechanics fail him. The pitch came out of his hand with much less rotation. The arm delivery was off line as well, which telegraphed the type of pitch he was throwing. The savvy batter recognized the pitch right away, a cement-mixer curveball that was about to break right into the power of his bat… and he didn't miss his chance. He swung the bat with grace and force, connecting at the right moment and frequency. The ball was belted high and deep to left field for a home run. Tie game.
The catcher got a new ball from the umpire and jogged out to the pitcher's mound. "Hey, buddy, shake it off. We'll get him next time." "I know," said the young pitcher, "I should have thrown the fastball." The wise catcher put a hand on his pitcher's shoulder and said, "Don't focus your mind on the pitch you should have thrown. Instead, try to execute the pitch you did throw."
Life is full of mistakes, blunders, second-guessing, missteps, oversights and errors. You'll have times when you believe that you should have done something at some time (or not done something at another time). Rather than putting energy and emphasis on your mistake, channel it into success in the moment. Maybe the choice you made isn't the best, but you made it and need to execute it to the best of your ability, follow through with your motion and finish it out before getting the ball back and starting over. When you are in the moment of now, you can only control what pitch you're currently throwing.
"Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." – Joe Maddon