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An Autographed Baseball

Autographed BaseballLast week, I got a baseball signed by sixteen guys from the San Francisco Giants. I already treasure it. It’s going on a special shelf in our Growing Leaders offices.

No, the autographs are not from major league ballplayers, although many of the signatures are from men who did play pro baseball. Nope—those names do not make up a list of rich and famous all-stars from the Giants organization, although I do cherish autographs from star athletes, of all sports.

But these signatures are even more important than that.

The sixteen signatures I have on this ball make up the coaches and managers who each week, in addition to managing a team of professional ballplayers, commit to facilitating a Habitude discussion in a clubhouse or hotel room. They would tell you they are ordinary men, with families, with flaws, with tempers and weaknesses. But they are men who want to invest in young athletes so they can be better men, not just moneymakers for their team.

Habitudes are images that form leadership habits and attitudes. We’ve created a special version of them for athletes (www.GrowingLeaders.com/sports). The only way these discussions on character, values, discipline, relationships and leadership can happen, however, is if coaches determine to take the time—in addition to batting practice, curve balls, stealing bases, bunting and sacrifice flies—to talk about the stuff that really matters in life. Why? They know that many of the minor league players are young and may have never learned these life skills. They also know that most of them will never become major league athletes.  Finally, they know that our world needs better men, better future husbands, fathers and contributors to their communities.

So, they take time out and lead a conversation about Icebergs, about Chess and Checkers, about Pyrrhic Victories, about Thermostats and Thermometers. One admitted to me it all sounded bad in the beginning. He said, “Tim, at first I thought this would be a waste of time. But as we discussed them, I realized how important these conversations are to my players. Now, I think these Habitudes are great. We want to do it again next year.”

I love what I get to do. And I love collecting baseballs with signatures like this.

Whose signatures would you highlight if you could? How are you recognizing those who don’t often experience the limelight?

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An Autographed Baseball