A life lesson at home plate

This is making the rounds – a great story with a remarkable life lesson.

 

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.  While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”  Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.  Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally … “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s time? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”
Another long pause.
“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”
“Seventeen inches!”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”
“Seventeen inches!”
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”
Pause.
“Coaches …”
Pause.
” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?”

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”
Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.
“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?” Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.
“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.  “… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

 

(ed. – Thank you to Dick Inwood and Claude Bennett who forwarded this poignant story to us.)

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Workplace Tip: How to Listen

In a LinkedIn article, By George recently saw Dr. Travis Bradberry’s “7 Things Fabulous Listeners Do Differently

 

Bradberry rightly points out that listening is a skill you want to be great at. He cites a recent study conducted at George Washington University showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s job performance.

 

Effective listening is something that can absolutely be learned and mastered. There are straightforward strategies that can make you a better listener.  Here are Bradberry’s 7 tips:

 

  1. Focus — The biggest mistake most people make when it comes to listening is they’re so focused on what they’re going to say next or how what the other person is saying is going to affect them that they fail to hear what’s being said.

 

  1. Put away your phone — When you commit to a conversation, focus all your energy on the conversation.

 

  1. Ask good questions — People like to know you’re listening, and something as simple as a clarification question shows not only that you are listening but that you also care about what they’re saying.

 

  1. Practice reflective listening – Psychologist Carl Rogers used the term “reflective listening” to describe the listening strategy of paraphrasing the meaning of what’s being said in order to make certain you’ve interpreted the speaker’s words correctly.

 

  1. Use positive body language – Become cognizant of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice (and making certain they’re positive).

 

  1. Don’t pass judgment — If you want to be a good listener, you must be open-minded. Being open-minded makes you approachable and interesting to others.

 

  1. Keep your mouth shut – If you’re not checking for understanding or asking a probing question, you shouldn’t be talking. Not only does thinking about what you’re going to say next take your attention away from the speaker, hijacking the conversation shows that you think you have something more important to say.

 

This post comprises of excerpts from the original. Read Dr. Bradberry’s full article here…

Source:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-things-fabulous-listeners-do-differently-dr-travis-bradberry

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Workplace Tip: How to Talk

In a great Inc.com article, Bill Murphey Jr. reveals “17 Verbal Habits of Highly Likeable People

 

It starts with what you say–and what you know not to say.  Murphey contends that how you listen to people will add (or take away from) your charisma.  Here are some of the most important things highly likeable people do every day.

 

  1. They are polite when then can be — Words like “please” and “thank you” might be technically unnecessary but they’re invaluable if you want to be more charismatic.

 

  1. They acknowledge small favors — “You’re welcome.” These two short words communicate much more than “no problem” (or, of course, “yup”) when someone thanks you for something.

 

  1. They offer meaningful praise — The key word here is “meaningful.” Charismatic people give sincere compliments–never bashful, never obsequious. When someone merits praise, they say so.

 

  1. They express sincere empathy — They use phrases like, “That must have made you feel proud,” or “I can imagine you must feel angry,” thus both exploring and validating other people’s feelings. Everybody wants to be understood.

 

  1. They share useful information — Some people like to hoard information because they think it makes them more powerful. Don’t be that person.

 

  1. They offer to help — The most charismatic people among us start simply by looking for chances to help–in their families, in their communities, and in the small moments of their day-to-day lives.

 

  1. They speak with justifiable confidence — They don’t boast or brag. But when faced with challenging situations–especially things that affect other people–they’re the ones who approach the problem with an air of calmness, curiosity, and confidence.

 

  1. They use names and titles that connote respect — Charismatic people remember other people’s names, and use their titles in circumstances when it makes those people feel good.

 

  1. They express their faith in others — Four simple words: “I believe in you.”

 

  1. They remember that they’re part of a team — A sense of camaraderie makes tough situations bearable. Having a sense of humor can even make them fun.

 

  1. They make introductions — Want to know five of the nicest words anyone can ever say to two people at the same time? “I’d like you to meet….” .

 

  1. They take their turn — Likable people aren’t afraid to step up when it’s their turn to do something enjoyable, or even to bear the burden of something that isn’t so great.

 

  1. They let others make their own decisions — Truly charismatic people have confidence in their opinions–but they also recognize that other people may legitimately see things differently.

 

  1. They listen–and they want to hear more — Highly likable people are active and sincere listeners. You can tell them your opinion or a story or ask for their advice, and they respond with questions and verbal cues that suggest they’re present in the moment.

 

  1. They take responsibility — When it’s their job or their fault, they step up. They take control of the things they’re supposed to have control over.

 

  1. They voice their support — We all appreciate people who stand by us and who let us know that they’re there.

 

  1. They ask, “Why not?” — Likable people are often dreamers, optimists, and doers. RFK put it best: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

 

This post comprises of excerpts from the original. Read the full article here…

SOURCE:  https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/want-to-be-more-charismatic-17-verbal-habits-of-highly-likable-people.html

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 sage quotes on success from Benjamin Franklin

Thankfully, Benjamin Franklin left behind volumes of writings, from which we have gained invaluable knowledge of his thoughts on life, work and success. Here are 10 gems on success that ring as true today as they did in Franklin’s era.

  • Well done is better than well said.
  • Never confuse motion with action.
  • Diligence is the mother of good luck.
  • By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
  • To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.
  • Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.
  • When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.
  • Energy and persistence conquer all things.
  • Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
  • All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.

For more wisdom from this American intellect, read “14 Lessons From Benjamin Franklin About Getting What You Want In Life.”

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

8 Things You Should Do After 8 P.M.

Here are some great tips on how to unplug and recharge. These suggestions are from a column written by Elle Kaplan in Thrive Global of LinkedIn:  “8 Things You Should Do After 8 P.M. If You Want to Be Happy and Successful — Wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow.”

 

Elle Kaplan tells you hows you how to set yourself up to have a more productive day.

 

  1. Strolls by the moonlight

Adopt a routine of nighttime walks to decompress.

 

  1. Unplug. Literally.

Unplug everything besides your alarm clock, and watch the tension recede. Unplugging is also a key to a good night’s sleep.

 

  1. Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is about more than just making your bed. Give yourself at least an hour to unwind before you actually doze off.

 

  1. Read up

Bill Gates found great success by reading for one hour every night, no matter what.

 

  1. Prioritize

You can avoid the morning scramble by laying out clear goals and priorities for tomorrow.  You’ll reduce your anxiety, and you’ll rest easy knowing you already have your ducks in a row.

 

  1. Stop mid-sentence

“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next,” Ernst Hemmingway once said. “If you do that every day… you will never be stuck.”

 

  1. School’s in

One of the best times to learn is after a long and exhausting day. Learn something new while winding down.

 

  1. Write your stress away

Writing down our problems reduces open “loops” of bad thoughts, and washes away anxiety.

 

FULL ARTICLE:  “8 Things You Should Do After 8 P.M. If You Want to Be Happy and Successful — Wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow.

 

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.