I was 11. I heard this word more than any other word during my Little League days under the summer sun in Bemidji, MN. Coach Whitey Anderson could say HUSTLE more times in a minute than anyone I’ve ever known. I loved baseball. Still do. In large part, thanks to Coach Whitey.
“Skogerboe, you’re a ball player, son. You’re a ball player. You can play this game right here. Yessir. Skogerboe’s a ball player.”
Coach Whitey was like encouragement on steroids for a young second baseman who otherwise wouldn’t have considered himself much of a ballplayer. I was moderately athletic, but overshadowed by the up-and-coming superstars. I could hold my own in the field and maintained a somewhat below average track record in the batting box, but I kept in the game year after year, growing better in my skill-set and deeper in love with the game. Coach Whitey fueled me to keep getting better, to learn why “hustle” had more to do with a healthy competitive attitude than just physical “hurry-up,” and he helped build into me a deep love of baseball that has never gone away.
Now I have a 10-year-old out there under the lights. I see his coach picking up the mantle from Coach Whitey for the next generation. I see him FEEDING encouragement and high expectations to the young men under his charge. And the boys are thriving. When Isaac talks about baseball, his eyes flash. Coach Haberlie is not just getting the bases covered, and he’s not just getting results… he’s building baseball lovers.
I just got an email from Coach last night, asking me to encourage Isaac, that he was so proud to have Isaac on the Team, and he is consistent in saying, “He is made for this game.” I hear echoes of Coach Whitey… “You’re a ball player, son. Skogerboe’s a ball player.”
These guys are both great leaders, and I hold them both in high regard.
The consistent ingredient in great leadership isn’t enthusiasm. It isn’t deeper, better, higher knowledge. It isn’t the ability to control outcomes.
The consistent ingredient in great leadership is this: INFLUENCE.
Coach Whitey literally changed my life. My childhood years are full of great memories, and I was a ball player. I believed it to my core. And now I see Isaac out there making plays, wrecking the knees of his baseball pants, and it’s better than the Twins. He’s hungry for baseball. Isaac’s gone from casual to passionate. THAT is INFLUENCE. And Coach Haberlie has been clear from the beginning: His goal is to help shape these boys into young men of character first, great athletes second. He’s not only influencing the boys… he’s influencing their dads. That’s great leadership.
All kinds of people read this blog. Friends and family, Pastors, Ministry leaders, Worship leaders… All kinds of people in all kinds of leadership roles. Here’s where ball meets bat, rubber meets road, hammer meets nail on the head… LEADERSHIP = INFLUENCE.
This has implications for two groups today.
First of all, if you don’t consider yourself a “leader,” you are WRONG. Think about your circle of relationships. Certainly among those relationships are a handful over whom you have some kind of influence. If you have influence, you have leadership. You may lead badly, of course, and influence those around you to make bad choices, to turn away from God or from wise counsel. But make no mistake: if you have influence, you are a leader. Lead well.
Secondly, if you THINK you are a leader, or if you are a leader by position, this is a good measuring stick for you. Are you herding a group, or are you leading? Are you steering outcomes, or are you leading? In other words, are you truly INFLUENCING the lives of those you lead? If you are in a position of authority, take a cue from Coach Whitey and Coach Haberlie… don’t just steer. LEAD. Don’t just point people. INFLUENCE people. Stop, pray, and think about how you can not just get the job done, but how can your influence lead to changed lives. If you are a leader, then LEAD WELL.
The consistent ingredient in great leadership is INFLUENCE. If you don’t have influence, you’re not really leading. And if you think you don’t have a role as a leader, invest in those you have influence over.
We only get one life. Wield some influence and change some lives, because time is short. And in the spirit of Coach Whitey… HUSTLE.
“leadership focus :: if i build it will they come?” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.