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Don't Be The Leader Who's Stuck On First Base

Baseball is a great game. It requires skill, patience, and teamwork in order to succeed, and the beauty is that hard work binds all three together.   

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The concept of baseball is quite simple, cross home plate more times than your opponent and you win. The difficulty lies in advancing past the other three bases that stand in the way.  Successful teams, however, are led by brilliant coaches who help to fine tune skills, master strategies and find ways to navigate to victory. 

We can learn a lot, as teachers and leaders, from the game of baseball.

My Personal Baseball Nightmare

I will never forget my first at-bat as a high school baseball player.  As I stepped up to the plate, my knees were shaking, my palms were sweating, and I was a nervous wreck.  With each pitch that crossed the plate I stood in anticipation hoping for a walk.  My wish came true, and four pitches later I found myself on first base.  This is when the nightmare began…

The next batter hit the ball into the outfield and came barreling down the line waiting for me to advance to second base.  The problem was, I froze.  I literally stood on first base unable to move and I was frozen in fear.  My coach was yelling for me to run, my teammate was ready to run me over, but I stood still. 

Eventually the other team simply tagged me and I was out, while my teammate was stuck on first base.  It was because of my lack of confidence, my personal fear, and my inability to move forward, that my teammate could not advance.

The Real Issue We Face As Leaders

Many times we become stuck behind people who are unwilling to move forward, afraid to take risks or have an inability to see the benefits of innovation.  Our responsibility as teachers and leaders is to set the bar high, be an example to those we lead and have the confidence needed to face our fears while we take on the challenge of the unknown.

The big problem in my baseball story was not that I stood still and ended up getting out.  The true issue was the fact that I caused someone else to stand still as well.  As teachers and leaders, we can often find ourselves stuck on the ‘baseball diamond of life,’ frozen on 1st base. The danger of staying there, however, is that you literally stop everyone who is behind you from moving forward and advancing.  You squelch innovative thinking and you eliminate change.  We must learn to recognize when we are stuck because until our eyes are opened we will never be able to allow progress.

How Do We Know If We Are ‘Stuck On First Base?’

 We get stuck in our comfort zone

For many of us, 1st base is our comfort zone.  We take on the mentality of “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?”  We get very comfortable in the routine of things and it just becomes easier to avoid challenges or change of pace. By embracing this mindset, and remaining in our comfort zone,  we miss so many opportunities to move forward.  We often lose the chance to improve on what is already working and we halt the progress of those we teach and lead. 

We get stuck in the twilight zone

For many of us, 1st base is our twilight zone. We share our insight and enjoy when others agree with what we share, yet we become combative when we are challenged. Rather than thinking of what is best for those we teach and lead as a whole, we concentrate more on protecting our pride instead.  We find ourselves in a place between our knowledge and our fears.  If we do not allow ourselves to be challenged, we will never grow, and in turn, those we lead will eventually find another path.

We get stuck in the End Zone

For many of us, 1st base is our end zone.  We truly believe that we are at the top of our game. We feel we have learned all we need to know in order to lead well.  We are at a place where we believe we are the smartest person in the room and our word is worth its weight in gold.  This is a dangerous place to be as a leader.  If we do not surround ourselves with people we can learn from, be inspired by, or share ideas with, we will find ourselves turning around one day to find that nobody is following behind.

Don’t Be The Leader Who’s Stuck On First Base

If you find yourself in one of the ‘zones’ above, or you feel that you’re stuck on first base for another reason, it is crucial to move forward.  The last thing we want to do is have those we lead stuck behind us because we just won’t budge.

In order for us to be true leaders, we must adopt a mindset of humility and servanthood.  We must be willing to admit our mistakes and work with those we lead to provide the best environment possible.  

Being a great leader or teacher does not happen overnight, but rather through years of perseverance and patience that provides the experience and wisdom needed to lead.  Don’t be the leader who is stuck on first base.  Instead, take it one day at a time, embrace change and remember we can’t steal second base without taking a small lead first!

[shareable cite=”Chuck Poole”]In order for us to be true leaders, we must adopt a mindset of humility and servanthood.[/shareable]

QUESTION: What are some other reasons we “get stuck on first base?”  How can we adjust and become better leaders? CLICK HERE to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

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