In sports, the line between superstition and routine is very easily blurred. Baseball players are some of the worst culprits of this. Although we all think we know the difference, the two often overlap more than we realize. After all, what separates eating the same breakfast every game day from always wearing the same pair of socks? The difference hinges not on the actual act, but on the mindset surrounding it. Both superstitions and routines are created to achieve a desired affect; namely, a feeling that leads to consistent success. Whether it is a specific warm-up routine, a pre-game meal, or a rabbit’s foot in our back pocket, we have convinced ourselves that the repetition of this ritual directly correlates to having repeated success. And, in part, we are right. The consistent action does lead to a positive outcome—not because of what color our socks are or what we ate or how we stretched, but because of the FEELING those actions give us. The ritual connects the present moment with past success, recreating the atmosphere surrounding those achievements. As such, the more consistent our actions become, the deeper the connection. What people often neglect to mention is the negative aspects of the aforementioned relationship.
The most important part of our routine is that it is a choice. WE are in control; WE are using these practices, not the other way around. Problems arise when we become a slave to our routine or our superstitions. When we become so reliant on those actions that we cannot function without them, they do us more harm than good. As the saying goes, “the best-laid plans often go awry.” Things out of our control will occur, but the extent to which we allow them to impact our success is entirely up to us. Having a consistent routine is one of the most important steps towards consistent success; however, being able to adjust when things go wrong and find novel ways to recall the feeling that is the purpose behind the routine is a much deeper application of the principle. Rather than your entire day relying on something as trivial as a pair of socks or a lucky rabbit’s foot (or even a very logical and structured routine), the realization that the greater purpose behind those actions is what is essential makes us unflappable. Consistency, then, is internal. Rain or shine, come hell or high water, we can—and MUST—constantly lay the mental foundation for success; THAT is the ROUTINE.