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June 29, 2005

How to Keep on Learning

Tonight was the 2nd game of the season for my Devil Rays modified "T" ball team. I'm floored at how much progress these kids have made in just the past couple of days. On Monday the kids were a bit tentative and some were able to hit the ball (thrown by a coach) but most had to revert to hitting off of a "T". Today (Wednesday) every one of the kids not only hit the ball, but some were flying it into the outfield. What they've learned and are now able to do has been amazing.

As I started to teach these kids the right batting stance, how to choke up on the bat, bend their knees, reach back, weight on their back foot and then when they swing to step and rotate through the ball, some got it, some didn't. Some were tentative, some made contact - others didn't, etc, etc - you get the picture. I was teaching "by the book" (or so the manual said). Then I remembered a piece that I read about Louis Armstrong - you know, the trumpet player. An interviewer asked Louis how he got so good, he said "I started out reading music and I was able to play the trumpet pretty good, but I really started learning when I just put all of the sheet music down, forgot about what my teacher said and just started wailing, and today, when I play - I just wail!".

So after we went through all of the batters once tonight, on their second trip up to the plate I told each of them, one on one next to the plate, to forget about everything I've taught them and just swing as hard as they could - just wail at it (of course I caught some evil eyes from some of the more "righteous" parents). Low and behold, they started to smack the ball hard and far. It was pretty funny, I mean they were really hitting the ball. On their third time up to bat I didn't say anything and I was asked by several of the kids "hey coach, do you want me to wail on it?". To which I responded "do whatever you feel comfortable with". One by one, they came up to bat, they had so much confidence, every one of them got up to the plate and if they didn't hit the first pitch they certainly hit the second one. These kids have never hit the ball so well.

The progress that these kids made in just a couple of days, in just a couple of innings was amazing!. So that begs the question, if kids can adapt so quickly, and learn, what happens to adults. For some reason adults seem to have learned that it's better to know than to learn. It's better to know and to be right. In fact, in business I run across people all the time who aren't shy about telling you how much they know. I wonder how much they learn though? To try a different approach to the one that they think is right. I wonder how much they're willing to put themselves at risk and show how much they don't know about something and just inquire, just learn. For me, I've always been more impressed with people who have the characteristic of being able to inquire, to ask why, to be wrong (or better said - not to be right) than those that seem to have all the answers. I'm not saying that all human beings should be a certain way, but those of us that are in businesses in a dynamic market which is full of twists and turns in a "never been done before" environment certainly can't have all the answers.

I learned a lot from my players tonight and I can't wait until I can one day say "I coached that kid". Go Rays!

June 29, 2005 in Biographical, Weblogs | Permalink

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