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Mistakes Happen!

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

It’s been over five years since Dr. Rebecca Herman and I researched and penned

Lead Me Out to the Ballgame , and yesterday one of my favorite stories played out right before my eyes. The story, shared with me by Oakland A’s manager, Bob Melvin, detailed an incident which occurred after a game in 2012 where his all-star first baseman, Brandon Moss, made an error which led to his team losing an important game. The anecdote, I emphasize, is not about what happened on the field, but rather what happened off the field after the game.

In a late season game in 2012, Melvin recounted to me, his all-star first baseman made an error, one of three errors in the game, which led to the As losing an extra inning game to the New York Yankees. After the game Brandon Moss approached Melvin, and as expected, he was upset about his error. Bob Melvin did what a good leader does in this situation, he stayed positive. Melvin reminded his player about the many games that he had won for the team with his bat, his glove, and his leadership, and encouraged his first baseman to think of those things the next time he takes the field, not of his miscue that led to an unfortunate result in the preceding game.

Moss was certainly a leader on his team, and leaders need to learn from their mistakes. Even more important though, leaders need to use their mistakes as a vehicle for learning and also for teaching.

Fast forward to, May 21st, 2018. My oldest son is completing his final high school baseball season in only a few weeks, and arguably, may have pitched his best game in yesterday’s loss during the league’s playoffs. The game was moving along swiftly with both pitchers throwing at a level any manager, parent, fan, or player prays for. Ben, my son, was perfect through the first 5 innings, and his counterpart had given up only one hit and had hit one batter in a scoreless game. When Trumbull took the field in the bottom of the 6th inning (of a 7 inning high school baseball game), our team’s hopes of continuing on to the semi-finals became a bit more of a challenge.

As this is not a piece on baseball, but rather leadership, I will spare the details of that 6th inning, except to share that there were two ‘hard luck’ errors and a questionable call from the umpires which led to the scoring of what would be the winning (and only) run of the game. Now, let’s look at the leadership that occurred after my son completed his second career no-hitter in a high school game, this one a loss for his team (as a side-note, a team losing a no-hitter has only happened 5 times in major league baseball).

When I spoke with Ben after the game and asked him how he felt about the game, his response was, ‘mistakes happen’. Mistakes do happen, and although I was incredibly proud of his pitching, those two words are what made me the proudest after a great, albeit disappointing, afternoon of baseball.

I’ve seen Ben grow tremendously as a leader over the past several years, and I give a great deal of the credit to the coaching he has received. To see his passion and enthusiasm on and off the field with his teammates gives me great joy and pride, but none more than the two words he uttered after a disappointing loss, ‘mistakes happen’. I did not have a chance to speak with the player who made the errors yesterday, but upon watching the replay of the game I saw Ben’s reaction after the error, he looked at his teammate, tapped his chest, and implied, it’s ok. Ben’s team lost a big game yesterday, but the lessons he and his team learned and continue to learn were paramount, ‘mistakes happen’.

I hope that every member of the team, all of us who watched the game, and all of us who witness or participate in mistakes each day remember that the way we show our leadership is to remind those who make the mistakes that they are not labeled by them, and have, and will continue, to do great things for our team, our organization, or our industry. It is with this attitude we will set ourselves and our colleagues up for success. We should learn from, but not harp on the mistakes that happen.

To our player who had the miscues yesterday, remember, ‘mistakes happen’, it’s time to move on and do what you usually do, help us win some games.

On to States…go Eagles!


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