It ain’t over till it’s over. – Yogi Berra
What does that mean?
This is a strongly sourced quote: “In July 1969, Berra’s Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9½ games in the National League East. The Mets rallied to win the division title on the final day of the season.”
The quote is about not giving up, not giving in, not until it is actually over. Other similar quotes might include “Dum Spiro Spero.” or “While I breathe I hope.”
The quote urges us to never stop, to give it our all, right up to the final moment. In this case, he was talking about winning a title.
But it is also poignant today, as he has just died. To me, it seemed natural to consider how to apply this quote to our lives, and to live every day.
Why is not giving up important?
While Yogi is known for his quirky way of saying things, this one, while a bit obvious, is often forgotten by those find themselves in a tight spot. It can be easy at times to lose track of the meaning of the quote and give up or give in before everything is finally done and actually over.
Going back to some of my favorite examples, can you imagine babies and young children giving up? Yes, they get frustrated, but they get back to it. Whether it’s sitting up, crawling, walking, running, talking or any other activity, they keep at it. Where would you be if you’d given up before it was all over?
Some of that determination they show may be the examples around them, but they just keep on trying. Imagine how much more we adults could accomplish if we never gave up, and kept after it, whatever ‘it’ might be? That kind of tenacity, that willingness to struggle, is what allowed many of our greatest inventors to achieve what was thought to be impossible.
Imagine what the world would be like if Edison had given up on the light bulb? Or if Tesla had given up on alternating current? What if the Wright brothers had given up on flight? Yes, each had competitors, and someone else would have eventually figured things out. Why? Because they didn’t give up. And sometimes, that’s the most important thing.
Where can I apply this in my life?
As the leader of the team, it was part of his job to help the teams morale up. By keeping them in the fight, there was a chance for the other teams to lose more than they won, and for his team to inch back into the lead. As it happens, that was the result that year. If he had let the team give up, it almost certainly wouldn’t have happened.
Some people have been conditioned to quit, to give up before it’s over. It might be their self-talk, or what they have heard from a young age. You’ll never win. You can’t do that. You’re too stupid. You aren’t tall enough. You weigh too much. You’ll lose interest, so don’t even start. You’ve heard it, either directed at you or someone you know. Will you focus on these negative comments? I hope not.
Some accept the limits placed on them by others. Some see it as a challenge, to prove these people wrong. Others simply live by different rules. I heard all those things growing up, but I don’t give up. I know that each time I try, I learn something. Eventually, I will figure it out. It may take a while, but I’m not going to give up.
Do you see how a change in attitude or approach can make a difference? Take a moment and consider the things in your life or areas of your life where you have given up. Discount the things which are no longer applicable, such as the dream of a 50-something to play professional football. Where in your life have you given up before it’s over?
That begs the question “When is it over?” For professional sports, probably in the 30’s or 40’s. But what about the things you have given up on? Are you willing to try again? What of the things you are considering quitting or giving up on? Are you willing to stand in and give it another try, and not give up until it’s truly over?
This leads us to the reason for choosing this quote. Yogi just died. That is, as far as we know, the real end. It’s now officially over for him. The rest of us, we’ve still got a few seasons, games, or even just a few innings left. But will we keep at it, or will we quit? Can we be optimistic and try again?
There are some who consider ending things early, to leave the game of life before it it’s over. I’ve never been in a place so dark or scary to consider that as an option. Instead, I consider that while it may end my pain, my death would simply multiply that pain and re-distribute it to those who cared for me or cared about me.
It ain’t over till it’s over. As long as we keep that in mind, we stand a chance of winning. Only when we quit, is it truly over. Rest in Peace, Yogi.