CHAMPIONS WORK WHEN NO ONE'S WATCHING
Dee Gordon is an eight-year veteran of Major League Baseball and the starting second baseman for the Seattle Mariners. A two-time All-Star, he's led the league in hitting and been a reliable and productive member of three teams (the Dodgers, Marlins, and now the Mariners). Despite his success, if you aren’t a pretty serious fan of pro baseball, you might not know Dee Gordon. That’s okay; he’s still got an important message for you today.
Recently Seattle beat Tampa Bay in a game that, in the context of a long, 162-game Major League season, was pretty inconsequential. It happened to be Dee Gordon’s first game back after an extended stay on the injured list, and despite his team’s success, Gordon struggled. He went hitless in six trips to the plate, including two strikeouts. It wasn’t the kind of performance Dee Gordon was used to, nor one he expected of himself.
Like every other game, Mariner beat writers covered the team’s win and broke down every angle of the performance. One of the secondary articles from Seattle Times writer Ryan Divish that night focused on what he happened to witness from the pressbox as he wrapped up his work. Well past midnight, Dee Gordon emerged onto the dimly lit and now totally abandoned Safeco Field, carrying his bat and dragging behind him a cart of baseballs and a tee. Then, all alone in the stadium (except for one late-night reporter), Gordon started hitting line drives – one by one – off the tee and into left field. Once finished, the Major League all-star drug the empty cart around the outfield, retrieving each of the balls he’d hit. When asked about it the next day, Gordon dismissed it, saying, “I really don’t want to talk about it…It’s nothing new for me. It might be new to y’all. There’s a reason I’m in the big leagues.” What an important lesson Dee Gordon’s example can help to teach each of us working to become our best as sports parents. And what an important lesson we are responsible for teaching our kids, too: that champions work when no one’s watching.
Read The Seattle Times article here .
Every athlete - your child included - will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself under the bright lights of the big stage. And every athlete likes to have their work recognized, highlighted, and celebrated. But the champion athlete is unique in their commitment to work when no one’s watching. It’s there, in the dark – in the inconvenient, unglamorous, or mundane hours that the champion separates himself from everyone else. While most athletes perceive it as boring or unimportant, the champion sees clearly just the opposite. This is actually the work that makes him better, that sets him apart, and that prepares him to be his best when the bright lights come on.
This is a unique perspective that not every athlete possesses. Those who do possess it are usually driven by a deep love and passion for the game. After all, when someone loves what they do, it doesn’t matter whether their effort gets recognized, highlighted, or celebrated. They’re doing the work for themselves, not for someone else. They’ve also likely developed an authentic desire to get better. They’ve come to believe in the power of their improvement, and then they’ve experienced that power for themselves by putting in the work and recognizing their growth.
Ironically, many of the same things can be said for us, working to be our best as sports parents. Sure, each one of us will have opportunities to prove ourselves under the bright lights of the big stage, when everyone is watching. And yes, even as adults we like our work to be recognized, highlighted, and celebrated. But as a champion sports parent, you are unique in your commitment to work when no one’s watching. It’s there, in the dark – in the inconvenient, unglamorous, or mundane hours that you separate yourself from everyone else. While most parents might perceive it as boring or unimportant, as a champion you see clearly just the opposite. This is actually the work that makes you better, that sets you apart, and that prepares you to be your best when the bright lights come on.
In reality, you could go back, re-read that last paragraph, and replace the words “sports parent” with any important role you have in life. Want to be a champion coach? A champion businessman? A champion CEO? Or spouse? Or friend? Being your best in any area of life requires your commitment to work when no one’s watching. It requires a unique perspective that not everyone possesses. I hope you’ll see clearly today how important that understanding is to your success. Just as importantly, I hope you’ll recognize the responsibility you have to help your child come to that understanding, too. The more you cultivate your young athlete’s love and passion for playing and strengthen his belief in the power of his improvement, the more committed he’ll be to working when no one’s watching. And the more like a champion, in sports and in life, he’ll become – even if you aren’t always around to see it.
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