A Simple Game of Catch
I grew up in Houston in a Houston Astros family. We always had the games on the television and when I was older, I became more familiar with the sport and grew to appreciate the complexities and nuances of each game. Even as I moved geographically further and further away from Houston, I still followed my Astros. Frustrating season after frustrating season. Until this season when they finally won the World Series!
Houston has had its share of challenges in 2017 and the entire city seemed to band together in support of those men in orange. It was an amazing series to watch and so gratifying to see them finally go all the way. There were so many interesting stories about the various players. Stories of young men who were from different parts of the world and older men who had found their second chance. But the one that really caught my attention was one about George Springer, the World Series MVP.
George Springer is from Connecticut – in fact, he’s from the Hartford area so our local press here had a great time highlighting his achievements as the team won game after game. His stats were unbelievable and also record-breaking, but the story that gave me pause was one that was much older – back when George was eight-years-old. It goes something like this….
“He changed my life and I was only eight-years-old.”
George started playing baseball when he was a young boy. He liked the sport and would often find his way to the local Double-A baseball park. It was there, when he was eight, that he was sitting in the stands before the game and Torii Hunter (the now-famous Minnesota Twin) was in the outfield, warming up before the game. Hunter threw Springer a ball – and Springer threw it back. And they kept playing catch.
Springer related this story to mlb.com and said, “I’ll never forget that. He didn’t have to do it and he did it. It stuck with me. He changed my life and I was only eight-years-old.” He went on to say, “You never know the impact you can have on somebody, just by saying hello or shaking a hand, whatever it is….I was eight-years-old [and my life was changed] by a guy playing Double-A baseball.” Years later he met Torii Hunter as a major league player and was able to thank him for taking the time for that game of catch.
It cost them nothing and gave me so much.
Leaders focus on many things – often all at the same time. They may be thinking about what needs to be done, what hasn’t worked, what has worked and what’s ahead. Strong leaders are often thinking about their teams and how best to support them. But what they may not be thinking about is how they may be seen by other employees. Folks that may not even be in their organization, but that look up to them just the same.
A kind word in the cafeteria, a helpful comment from a meeting, an observation regarding a presentation – these are all ways we, as leaders, can engage other employees in supportive and encouraging ways. It may not seem important in the moment, but it can have a lasting impression. I remember the first time a very senior person gave me positive feedback based on something I had said in a meeting. I also remember the first time another senior leader told me she had heard about my work and was hoping we would work together someday. I am sure those comments don’t stick with those leaders all these years later, but they certainly do for me. It cost them nothing and gave me so much.
So, here’s the question of the day…Where will you find your unexpected game of catch?
I guarantee there is someone out there who will not forget it if you do.