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Winless Winning

May 22, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Lessons on winning are exposed in the business world more often than a Jobing.com logo in the Valley.  I’m here to remind you of these lessons through the story of a haphazard B-League softball team that plays every Wednesday night under the lights at El Dorado Park in Scottsdale . The short story goes that one of my former co-workers invited me to fill in on his softball team.  I showed up to find sixteen players sitting on his bench, while a handful of bad news bears warmed up across the diamond.  They needed one more player, so I crossed the chalked baselines and played a little shortstop.  We lost badly.

In fact, we ended up losing fifteen games in a row. The season was characterized by grown men with beer bellies screaming at each other over bobbled balls and pop outs.  Our head coach was dubbed with a reputation that resembled the short tempered college basketball coach Bobby Knight.  I debated on returning for another season.

Sure enough, I found myself back out on the field with a few new faces.  Two of our four guys on the roster named “Dan” (Dan, Danny I, Danny M, Detroit Dan) decided to form their own team, leaving a showdown for our first games of the season.  It was two of three games we won all year, leaving us with a record of 3 wins, 11 losses going into the playoffs last night.

In a single elimination playoff format, the last members of our team tardily trickled into the dugout after the first pitch.  We were squared away to play the second best team in the league, where a Pau Gasol look-a-like played first base and hit the cover off the ball in the cleanup spot.  We jumped on them in the first inning, scoring six runs and finished the game in unknown territory as a handful of winners.  

In the semifinals our team carried the positive energy on to trounce our identically uniformed opponents as their Scottsdale prototype girlfriends looked on.  We had reached the finals to face the team I had jumped ship from 26 losses ago.

Be it nerves, complacency, our just plain lack of talent, our team fell behind by five runs as balls squirted in between infielders legs and out of outfielders gloves.  Whatever momentum rolled into the finals had dissipated as our team resorted to its losing ways.

Then Yo, an aging softball veteran who rocks a seventies style mustache and crew socks, started the top of the inning off with a line drive up the middle.  A single by Mike was followed up with a double by Joe, who was then driven home by a line drive from Mike D.  The contagiousness spread throughout the lineup as the guitarist Randy and the roofer Dan strategically placed pop ups between the shortstop and center fielder.  

The next thing we knew we were up for good, and were awarded a monster trophy recognizing us as the champions of the Scottsdale Softball B-League.  The hard-to-love losers had transformed themselves into winners.

I tell this story because there are many lessons that can be learned about winning.  

1)       Winning (and losing) is contagious.  If there is a loser in the bunch, that attitude spreads like a cancer throughout the team.  The pattern winning follows is the same, except that winning is a lot more fun. 

2)       All it takes to win is a universal, strong belief in achieving a goal.

3)       No matter who we are, how we appear, or how skilled we are, there is a winner in all of us.  It just takes a leader to bring it out in ourselves.  Usually, that leader is our self.

4)       Anyone can win on any given day no matter what the circumstance.  So stop making excuses and go play.  

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Steve Says:

May 24th, 2008

This is the best posting in the whole life of PTP!!!! It also brings back fond memories. You must have had some GREAT baseball coaches in your past.!!!! The other take away for business as well, is that “winning is more fun than losing.” Congrats on your championship attitude.

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