2015: Why I’m Grateful for the Worst Year of My Life


“Worst Year of My Life” is kind of harsh I think. That’s a strong word and it really depends how you look at it. I guess I say that from others’ perspectives. I don’t usually share these types of things with the world, but maybe someone else can learn something or relate. No matter how you look at it, this year for me was filled with adjectives like: difficult, testing, rock-bottom, impossible.

The year started with business going effectively backwards at a pretty steady pace. Since 2012, we had built a sales team that pushed over $2,000,000 a year worth of product around the world to over 15 countries. Sales and incomes started dropping across the board, for many reasons, all of which I take full responsibility for. I won’t get into numbers, but it wasn’t good. Looking back it’s laughable to think we thought that was as bad as it gets. More on that later.

This summer I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to run a collegiate summer baseball team. I highly underestimated the amount of work that would take, but I met some cool people, traveled some cool places, and hey, it was baseball, I loved the grind. That grind is much tougher from the press box than it was from the field, might I add… I was really looking forward to continuing to run the program when the reigns were handed off to me the next season. It’s more of a business than you think. Yearly budgets run in the mid to even upper 5 figures a summer. I was excited about bringing competitive summer college baseball back to town. But of course it’s not that easy. Shortly after the season ended we learned the complex was being sold, and there goes our home park. Looks like that plan won’t be happening either. (Later the sale fell through, but too late to have a squad in 2016)

Now back to business. One morning in August I believe, I remember waking up to an unusual amount of texts, tweets, and Facebook notifications. I opened my phone to find out that our entire company had its doors closed. In a liberal government abuse of power travesty, all of our lives were flipped upside down that morning. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt reading the heartfelt posts and texts I got that day. I won’t bore you with the legal details, because they don’t really matter. What happened happened. What’s relevant is that I, some of my closest friends, colleagues, and hundreds of people that had been under our leadership for 3 years instantly lost everything we had built and worked for. It was gone. No trial, no negotiation, nothing. All gone. That over $2,000,000 a year went instantly to $0. These are people with no backup plans and with families to feed. It made us quickly appreciate the decline in sales we experienced earlier this year. Now what? I had no idea what to tell these people. It was one of the worst feelings I’d ever felt. I don’t know what classifies as “depression,” but the next few weeks had to be pretty close. I spent most of my time on the couch doing nothing. Sleeping. Avoiding the situation.

This made me realize how much I had been slacking on the Baseball Fam / ShtBallPlayrsDo / Ball Player Connect company side of things. I had gotten complacent with what I was building with my other business, and let this one fall as well. In kind of an emergency effort, that’s about when I built and launched baseballfam.com (the highlight of the year). Things there (or “here” I guess) are going well, and I’m excited about the upward momentum heading into the new year.

How can somebody come out of a year like that grateful, after losing just about everything? Good question. I struggled for months. Once the initial emotions and shock wore off, I was able to look at it with a level head. I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason. Maybe it all happened as an opportunity to focus more on my true passion and purpose. Right here. I wrote weeks ago about the epiphany I had. It was a big wake up call. I’ve been blessed enough to have this platform to affect many people, and it’s about time I started taking that responsibility seriously.

I learned so much during my time with my company over the last 4 years. I learned that you can NEVER take your foot off the gas pedal. The second you think “I made it” is the second things will start heading backwards. You’re either moving forward or backward, there is no staying still. They can take away the income, but nobody can ever take your relationships, or your knowledge and skills. I’ve come to value those last two over the $. I had it all backwards for years. This tragedy taught me that important lesson that will effectively change everything I do from hear on out. For the people, the lessons, the skills, and everything, I am truly grateful for 2015.

Appreciate the failures and pay close attention to the lessons you can draw from it.

Happy New Year,

Shane Sullivan
Founder, baseballfam.com