Let’s take a midsummer’s break from office interiors and talk about baseball and life.
I coach my 8 year old son’s little league baseball team. Our first basemen’s Dad is friends with former major league umpire and American hero, Steve Palermo and last Wednesday, he invited Steve to attend our final regular season game and talk to the boys afterwards.
Steve arrived early in the second inning and watched from his front row seat. After our little Hawks pulled out another victory, they took a knee just behind the dugout and looked up at the man leaning against his cane. These boys were born 12 years after a mugger’s bullet ended Steve’s career as an umpire and they didn’t know who he was, but they did know he worked in major league baseball at one time and that was a good enough reason for them to quiet down and listen as he began to speak.
For the first 15 minutes or so, the talk revolved around major league baseball and included the usual questions such as, “do you know Derek Jeter”, and “have you ever been hit by a baseball”? After Steve patiently answered each question, he gracefully shifted the attention from baseball to life and here is what he said:
“Baseball is not your job and whenever you play it, the most important thing you should always try do is have fun. It’s a game and you should always have fun when you play it. If you concentrate on having fun, you’ll play better and enjoy it more.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do your best, because you should always do your best. If a ball comes and you just watch it go by, then you’re not doing your best and that’s not right. Always do your best and even if you don’t make the play or win the game, no one will be able to criticize you because you gave it your best shot.”
At that point, the small group of parents and boys got pretty quiet. I looked around at all the faces staring back at this brave man, leaning against his cane and sweating under the hot June sun and thought about what great advice this was and how much it applied to the adults as well. Do your best and always have fun. Think of how much more fun and productive our workplaces would be if everyone simply focused on doing their best and having more fun?
As I walked to the car, I wondered how difficult it must have been for Steve as he was rehabbing from the gun shot wound to his spine. He could have easily stayed inside the restaurant that night and he might still be a major league umpire to this day, but he couldn’t because that wasn’t his best. He couldn’t sit back and watch that moment roll by. Years of painful rehab followed that decision, but Steve continued to do his best and now he’s having fun again. He still works for Major league baseball and tours the country sharing his story with people of all ages.
Great advice from a great man and it applies as much to the workplace as it does to baseball.