Learnings from Little League World Series 2011

Did you happen to watch any coverage of the 2011 Little League World Series?  I was fascinated with the event this year and I watched several games.  My interest level was elevated higher than usual because I have an eight year old son who has really become passionate about baseball and I coached his little league team.  I also played baseball at the collegiate level and was fortunate to play in the College World Series many…many years ago.  But I lost interest in the game until recently.  

I was so impressed with the level of play these pre-teen kids put on display.  I was particularly impressed with the Japanese team.  These kids pound for pound were by far the smallest team, but man could they play.  I couldn’t believe how disciplined, knowledgeable, and passionate they were about the game.  Japan had one superstar, but he was a humble leader amongst a group of kids that played like a team with a purpose.  These kids confirmed two thoughts I have developed in recent years.

First, children can learn and progress so much faster than we can imagine.  If we provide the right environment the sky is the limit.  I am by no means an expert to define what the “right” environment would look like, but I am certain that such an environment would be different from the one we have created for them today.  Well, back to baseball.  The Japanese coach was very controversial in Japan because his style was very different from past coaches. He instilled all the discipline and hard work expected from a Japanese coach, but he brought something new – a smile.  And that smile was contagious and spread like fire throughout the entire team.  These kids played amazing baseball and they smiled and had fun.  They didn’t win the final game but they held nothing back and had no reason to be ashamed. 

Second,  these kids played as a team with passion and purpose for free.  What?  Yes, these little men put all their energy into a purpose with passion and not one of them made a single buck.  I am sorry, but now I have to get a little philosophical.  If little men can reach such a peak performance without earning a buck, why then can’t man in general achieve the same goal?  Why can’t we define great visions and purposes that inspire passion and teamwork without sticks and carrots?  These little men didn’t need money to work together to achieve something remarkable.  These little men simply used their energy to make it happen.  We can have a better world if we really want it.  All it would require is our energy and great visions.  We don’t need money, loans, and financial institutions.  All we need is our brains, energy, and visions.