Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, Jr. is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.
At the age of six, Doug Baldwin Jr. joined his first football team. “And then I quit because I was afraid to get hit,” Doug said. “My mom warned me that if I started the program the following year, she wasn’t going to let me quit. So I signed up, and again, once the season was under way, I wanted to stop. But this time she wouldn’t let me. She taught me at that very young age when you decide to commit to something, it means you’re going to see it through.”
From that point on, quitting was no longer an option in Doug’s mind. He calls his mother “the strongest person and the most successful mother I’ve ever known in my life.” Meanwhile, his father, a police officer and homeland security official, demonstrated the skills he believed a growing boy should have in order to grow into manhood.
Doug learned early to embrace diversity and spirituality. Although he resided and attended schools in Gulf Breeze, Florida, a predominantly white and middle-class community, he spent much of his non-school hours in Pensacola, a poorer city with a large African-American population, where both parents worked and where he played football and other sports. He also developed a profound relationship with God that did not follow the scriptures of any particular religion but provided him with a guiding light nonetheless. “The more I learned about the Bible, the more it seemed to me like your specific religion or denomination is not nearly as important as just having a relationship with God, whatever you might call that relationship.”
Throughout his teen years, not only did Doug letter in three sports – basketball, football and track – but he also earned excellent grades and was inducted into the National Honor Society. Eventually he was recruited to play football for Stanford University, one of the most academically competitive colleges in the country.
His penchant for facing down adversity would be sorely tested his junior year in college, however. An ankle sprain put him on the sidelines early in the season, plus he was preoccupied with decisions about choosing a major and simultaneously having a difficult time understanding why his coach kept him on the bench. “I called my parents every night to tell them I wanted to leave Stanford or at the very least quit football. In retrospect, I think I was suffering from depression.”
But once again, his mother’s fundamental belief in the power of persistence prevailed. “My mom came to the rescue. She pointed out that I’d come so far; why would I abandon my dreams of playing football at this point?”
A particular Bible passage came to symbolize his plight: “For I know the plans I have for you… plans for good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” At that point, Doug stopped stewing about his circumstances and looked to his faith to carry him through instead. Not only his attitude but the situation on the field suddenly improved.
Still, there were more challenges and disappointments to face down, including not being drafted his senior year. Picked up three months later by the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent, he arrived determined to prove his worth.
Despite his determination to have a great rookie season, he was faced with the obstacle of more injuries which kept him sidelined for part of the year. But with his sophomore season approaching, Doug again saw a way to turn adversity into opportunity, recognizing the urgency of learning to temper his indefatigable drive with a willingness to pay attention to his body and ease off on the stress he was imposing upon himself, a combination he now believes will make him continue toward a fine career in the NFL.
And already, Doug has started sharpening skills that could lead to a post-football career: he’s learning to use social media and other broadcasting outlets to create a brand for himself as someone who is fun, approachable and an expert on football. He’s also passionate about finding ways to help his community through charitable outreach.
More than anything else, though, it’s his love of his family and his spiritual faith to which he attributes his personal successes. “My faith is the backbone of everything I do in life. Like every human, I make mistakes, have my missteps, but always fall back on my faith. That’s my foundation and the most important thing in my life, and it trickles down into every aspect of who I am.”
A tried and true spiritual core plus the lessons learned from his parents gave Doug Baldwin, Jr. the character of an Insightful Player® team member.
Instant replay of Doug Baldwin, Jr.’s Guiding Principles:
- When negative circumstances occur in your life, don’t spend time asking “Why,” as in “Why did this happen to me?” Instead, ask “How” – as in, “How can I turn this situation around and make it something positive?”
- Judge people by their actions without passing judgment on them, and use your impressions of them to inform your own decisions about how you choose to interact with them.
- Follow good examples wherever you witness them: from your parents, your coaches, your teammates.
- Make it your mission to treat everyone fairly and equally.
- Stick with what you started. Don’t be a quitter; be persistent in following through on your plans and your goals.
- Refuse to let your identity become tied up in any one aspect of your personality. Realize that you have many different aspects and can put them all to good use.
- Understand that you are a physical being and have to take care of your body’s physical requirements for rest, good nutrition, and time to recover from injury or overuse. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that athletes push forward no matter what; honor the basic physical needs that keep your body strong.
- Don’t let adversity define you. See challenges as interesting opportunities to grow.
- Remember that no one quality, such as being a strong athlete, is all that you are. Your success depends on your determination and your attitude, not any single skill set.
- Never underestimate the importance of faith and a solid spiritual core. Regardless of your religious affiliation, what matters is your relationship with your God.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her book, INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope.
©2013 Insightful Player, LLC
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