5 things we can learn from youth baseball

My 4-year old son just finished his first season playing baseball in the Shetland Pony Division. It was a grueling eight-week summer season, filled with weekly baseball practices and eleven practice baseball games.

There were times when he didn’t want to practice, when he lost interest in the game, and when he complained about the summer heat. Then there were moments when he hit a pitched ball solidly, when he scooped up a ball and threw it quickly to first base, and when he ran triumphantly over home plate.

Looking back on the season, I thought about the things that we are teaching these young baseball players. Have fun. Follow the rules. Focus.

Here are just five things we can learn from youth baseball, and apply it to government and business:

1. It’s run by volunteers. No one gets paid to coach or practice or cheer. We should welcome volunteers, helpers, community input, and even (or especially) dissatisfied customers.

2. There are coaches, not bosses. Youth baseball is about teamwork, and the coaches want everyone to thrive. In business, we should encourage employees to learn, to excel, and to mentor others.

3. Pitch softly. We want our batters to hit the ball and our catchers to catch the ball, so we throw carefully. In government, we don’t need a dictator; we need a leader who can pitch softly and achieve a consensus.

4. Cheer for the other team. We praise everyone when they do a good job, not just our own players. And we should congratulate our co-workers and our business competitors when they are successful.

5. No one keeps score. We teach the youngest players about following the rules and teamwork, not about winning. And we don’t constantly remind them of past games. While legislative scorecards have their place, past decisions shouldn’t prevent us from working together.

We teach our children many things that we sometimes don’t practice in government and business – saving money and spending money carefully comes to mind. What else can we learn from teaching our children?

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