As I was walking through the airport, this billboard (above) caught my eye. I’m a sucker for a picture of any Little Leaguer, especially one like Adam Bender. The billboard was developed by Values.com or The Foundation For A Better Life. The goal of this organization is to “offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution to promoting good values, good role models, and a better life.”
I especially like the videos that are produced by Values.com. Even though some are a bit hokey, all the videos have uplifting themes that viewers are encouraged to pass along to others, hence the tag line “Pass it on”. Here are a few of my favorite baseball/softball related videos:
This video titled “The Greatest” has a nice twist at the end. The video is intended to encourage us to keep an open mind when we are trying to identify our gifts and purpose in life. As it pertains to baseball and softball, it is difficult for some players (and parents) to adjust their expectations when faced with obstacles or even failure. Players who hit at the top of the order in high school may find themselves sitting on the bench or hitting at the bottom of the order in college. Their options are to quit, compete, or adjust.
Quitting is always the easiest way to deal with adversity, and always the most damaging. Competing is a great response to adversity. However, competing hard through technique improvement and practice may not always result in more playing time. Sometimes, making an adjustment is the only practical solution. This adjustment could mean being resigned to role of a reserve player or a pinch hitter. It could also mean a drastic adjustment in hitting style, like evolving from a slap hitter in softball to a power hitter. Another alternative would be to become a great bunter or a defensive specialist. If a player truly loves the Game and puts the team first, then making a big adjustment can be the right call.
I often reference this video when I am asked to provide career counseling for friends and colleagues. I try to convince them that our failures can open the door for future success. We are all blessed with skills and gifts that make us unique and useful to others. All we need is an open mind and a positive attitude.
Optimism…Pass it on…
Loyalty in baseball and softball comes in many forms–loyalty to coaches, loyalty to teammates, and loyalty to the Game.
This video illustrates the positive impact of loyalty from a teammate. Baseball and softball are considered team sports, but don’t tell that to the batter who strikes out with the bases loaded. At that moment, the sport becomes very personal to the hitter.
I love the phrases in baseball and softball like, “Pick me up” when a hitter fails and promptly encourages the next hitter to succeed. Or when the next hitter says, “I’ve got you” to ease the burden of the failed at-bat, as a reminder that it truly is a team game.
This video is about more than just loyalty. It should remind all of us how to live our lives unselfishly and with unconditional service to one another.
Loyalty…Pass it on…
Umpires have historically been the target of insults from players, coaches and parents. I really never understood this because yelling at an umpire always seemed counterproductive to me. I believe umpires know when they blatantly miss a call. Umpires also rarely change the call and some can hold a grudge if the verbal abuse is excessive.
Respecting the Game also requires participants to respect one another, even if they disagree. Over the years, I have developed respectful relationships with some umpires who have worked many games I have coached. This past season, one of the umpires I know and respect for his professionalism and knowledge of the Game, missed a call in a critical situation. He knew I disagreed with the call, based on my quiet, non-verbal disappointment. Between innings, he came up to me and said, “I missed that one, Paul.” I responded with a simple, “Thanks”. Our civil interaction was only possible because we both love and respect the Game.
In this video, the ballplayer and father makes the right decision, because his heart overruled his head. The result of his decision is an act of human compassion, which is also a great example for his family.
Right Choices and Helping Others…Pass it on…
This video has nothing to do with baseball or softball, but it is my favorite Values.com video. As a father who has sent three children off to college, I can relate to the emotional moment when the daughter in the video leaves home for school.
The primary message of the video is intended to be the gratitude of the daughter, but after watching it dozens of times, the pride of her father also resonates with me. As a coach, I am always grateful and humbled when my hitters attribute some of their success to me. However, I know how much time and effort it takes become a great high school or college hitter. When my hitters achieve their goals and receive recognition, I am as proud as the father in the video. The tears in his eyes are filled with more pride than sorrow.
Gratitude can be expressed in many ways. I have found that an “old school” phone call or a handwritten note are the most well-received ways to say “thank you” when you are unable to be there in person. No matter how it’s done, gratitude is a powerful response to the service of others.
Gratitude…Pass it on…
** Adam Bender is a 10-year old cancer survivor. If you want to learn more about Adam and his story, please click on this link.