This line was born while I was coaching my youngest son Travis in city league baseball in Altus, Oklahoma when he was 12 years old.
I started coaching him when he was only 5 years old in city league basketball. Earlier that year his coach had the team of 5 year old’s trying to run plays instead of just teaching them the basic fundamentals of basketball and it was driving me crazy. As I sat in the stands griping about it to Melanie, she just looked straight ahead and without missing a beat said to me; “Why don’t you coach his team, Mr. Black?” That comment left me feeling somewhat like Michael Oher’s coach felt after a coaching lesson from Mrs. Tuohy (from the Blind Side) Coaching tips from Mrs. Tuohy
Made sense to me. So I started my coaching career. And during all those early years, I just taught basic fundamentals, passing, dribbling, shooting, not walking & rebounding. Little did I know that this time period in my life would actually come in pretty handy when I began to lead bigger teams in my role at work.
“Before you get too detailed with complicated business plans, make sure the team knows the basic fundamentals of retail and truly how to calculate gross margin!”
Travis has a God given gift of athletics. He’s great at basketball and baseball. Natural talent. The kind of talent that success comes easy. The kind of talent that every coach dreams of and every player just hopes they get to play on a team with someone like Travis. Throughout all the years of his city league career, our teams were normally undefeated and won the championships. We were always accused of having the ‘stacked’ team, although we put together teams using all the same rules that everyone else had to go by. It was fair, but having someone like Travis on an already great team made it feel like someone had broken the rules.
With this kind of talent, you can imagine at that age the swagger a young man like this would have. All the other guys on the team just wanted to hang around him and all the girls just, well let’s just say he always had a lot of girls around him. (We’re sure glad that our daughter-in-law, Sarah, won his heart!)
In sports and in business, the natural tendency is to play just hard enough to win or in business to just try to stay a little ahead of your closest competitor.
If you’re going to be the best, you have to be YOUR best every time out. You have to be YOUR best when nobody is looking. Whether it’s an actual game or in business if you’re going into a new market. You have to give it all you have. In sports, if you want to win more than you lose, you have to play harder than just the competition, you also have to be able to overcome bad calls (circumstances beyond your control – but can affect the outcome) as well. In business, I believe that if you are truly running the best store possible, you should be able to pick it up and place it in any city in the country and it would be successful.
Back to coaching Travis…..
When you have a player that can score in basketball anytime he wants to, or hit a home run at any given time or pitch a no-hitter, you really have to try to keep him focused on humility and keeping himself in check. It was in the 5th grade that I coached one of his city league baseball teams and we knew this would be our last year in city league. We didn’t do very good that summer and it was primarily due to the arrogance of the whole team. After all – we’d won the championship every year for the last several years. Even with all the talent they all possessed, we were getting killed. In one of our time outs as the team was gathered around me, these words came out of my mouth –
“Every one of you guys are the best at your position. Nobody on the other team is better than any one of you;
It doesn’t matter what you can do, it matters what you do!”
Going into the 5th inning, we were down by 5 runs. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Travis caught fire with his bat….he hit a single home run, a double home run and a grand slam home run. (that’s 9 RBI’s – runs scored) He also pitched the final innings of the game with multiple strikeouts and we won the game! He got a fire in his belly that made him rise up and prove that it was what you do that matters!