“Quitting is leading too.” – Nelson Mandela
In late winter/early spring of 2012, I received a book as a gift. The name of the book was Lead…for God’Sake! by Todd Gongwer (which I highly recommend). Being busy with baseball season beginning, I put the book down, and did not read it until late May after one of my most trying seasons as a coach had just ended.
This book became the first course in a major education for me. It opened my eyes, but more importantly, my heart to the possibilities before me as a man, coach, and person of influence. Among the many things this book has taught me and continues to teach me, the first is that my actions influenced people every single day, directly or indirectly, positively or negatively. Now, I had heard this before, but this was one of those “right place, right time” reminders that just smacked me across the face.
Think about that for a second. Everything we do directly or indirectly influences someone in a positive or negative manner.
We all want to have a positive influence on the world, right? I know I do. So, I had to really evaluate what my behavior was telling my players that it was alright to do.
Was I giving less than my best effort as a coach, but expecting more out of my players? Was I arguing with umpires and griping about calls, but expecting my players not to do so? Was I yelling and raising my voice or throwing things and being angry, then telling them not to? Did my actions reflect exactly what I expected from them?
But this extends beyond the baseball field. Do we treat people in our own home different than people we see in public? Do we react in a manner that would set a poor example for our child or our siblings? Have we ever noticed that people around us start using words or phrases that we may use quite often? Are we proud of those or are they embarrassing? What influence is our behavior leaving on this world?
When I was a sophomore in college, our baseball team was playing in St. Louis. It was a one-run game with two outs in the bottom of the final inning. My spot in the order was up, and coach decided to pinch hit for me. The way I handled that situation has dictated the way that I have handled that situation ever since because I got it wrong. I got it extremely wrong.
Instead of understanding that I had been struggling and someone else deserved to hit in that spot, I selfishly chose to get upset, slam my helmet, and not support my teammate as he hit. I was supposed to be a leader, and in a moment where I could have really exhibited that leadership, I quit on my team. How did I influence everyone else who witnessed my behavior? I told them that it was fair to think of themselves first before the team, just as I had, instead of being a selfless team player. By quitting, I was still leading, but poorly.
Fortunately for me, our team was full of players who exhibited those leadership qualities much better than I did on that day. They sought me out as did our assistant coach to let me know what I already knew—that my behavior was unacceptable and it did not set a good example. I learned a valuable lesson that day, and I became a better teammate because of it.
We will not be perfect. It is unfair to think that we will never make a mistake.
But, we can always be cognizant of the influence that our behavior has on people. We can take a deep breath and think before we act or speak (especially in today’s world of social media). We can strive to think of others first, instead of living selfishly.
Leadership equals influence plus responsibility. We all have an influence over someone whether we know it or not, and we should all take pride in the responsibility of making sure that influence is a positive one.
Your words and your actions matter. Good or bad, whether you know it or not. Take pride in them. Choose to make a positive difference.
Bring your best today!