This year I am coaching my son’s Little League team. Bear with me, there is a link to entrepreneurship and some of my thoughts for anyone working with youth. Emotions run very high in sports—we can all question why. Overzealous parents living vicariously through their kids? People potentially lured into hoop dreams about college scholarships and pro careers for their little stars by for-profit sports academies? I am not trying to be snarky here, but there is certainly a mix of factors at work behind that cute little kid with the big glove/ball in front of you.
Unfortunately, my high-school softball career was cut short by repeated psychological and physical bullying by a group of teammates, led by the best player on the team. What did I do? I finished the season and left the team. At that time, we didn’t talk that much about bullying, and I did not have enough confidence in my place in sports to stand up for myself and involve the coach. At the end of the day, when kids undertake different activities, they learn a lot about how to achieve a goal, how to get along with people, how to navigate their own emotions, and ultimately who they are—their identity. So yes, we can say it’s all for fun, that it’s not about winning, but it really is. It’s about our kids learning about themselves and how to win at being their own personal best when they strive to achieve—whether it’s in sports, music, academics, etc.
Ok, enough of that, the business point is that there are two things I learned through sports that have a direct link to entrepreneurship–the importance of hustle and scrappiness. It take tremendous energy, will, faith, and flexibility to build a business and stay in business in a tough environment. I have attached some fantastic reads on the subject below. I always worked to be a scrappy, hustling player on the field—and I am so pleased to see how well those qualities translate to the world of work.
Getting back to the kids. If you are working with kids, yes, please make it fun. But keep in mind that you are also doing really important work to help shape those kids. Childhood experiences can have a much more lasting effect than you can ever imagine. If you can help the kids in front of you learn to hustle and be scrappy, you will have given them tremendous tools for life. As for me, I returned to sports later when I decided that nobody had the right to tell me where I belonged. I loved ball too much.
Thoughts on this? Please feel free to disagree—I won’t be offended—I am a bit of a scrapper!