Last Night We Were Heroes…Lessons Learned: How We Unlocked Our Inner Genius
My buddy and I were heroes yesterday at my softball tournament. And it had nothing to do with hitting balls and running the bases.
The softball games—the tournament was a fundraiser and a pretty big event—began at about nine o’clock in the morning, and we started off on fire. We won our first three games. I mean, we were unstoppable. Our fourth game was at five o’clock. We had been playing all day for seven or eight hours with a few hour-long breaks along the way. And at that game, we got our butts kicked. It was a double-elimination tournament, and now we were in the loser’s bracket.
The Darkness Dilemma
It was about seven at night, and it was starting to get dark out. So during the first inning, and the umpire actually calls the game because of darkness.
I couldn’t believe it. The whole purpose of this fundraiser was obviously to raise money. But we had been playing all day to find the champion too. And now darkness was going to stop us?
The really insane thing was that there actually were lights at this field. So just turn the lights on, right? Well, the ump said he had to call the game because someone from the town was supposed to come into the shed, push a button, and turn on the lights. That guy never showed. No guy, no lights, no game.
At this point there were about a hundred people waiting around to play or just to watch the game. The director of the tournament called the town. Nobody picked up. He tried calling his contacts. No one picked up. He called the police. The police said, “Sorry, buddy, can’t help you.”
At that point, three games needed to be played, and nobody could figure it out. A half hour went by. We had a hundred adults just sitting around, lingering, and nobody was doing anything. They had made the phone calls, and people had essentially given up. I turned to my buddy Joe.
Asking the Right Questions
Joe’s a great guy. He’s actually really big into real estate. He’s a killer entrepreneur. He just has an amazing energy about him. He has these two sons, and they’re geniuses—literally geniuses. He had told me a story how they were competing at one point to see who’d get the highest score on the SATs, and they tied: 2350, which is just ridiculously high.
I turned to Joe—father of brilliant sons—and I said, “If your sons were here right now, would they be able to figure out a solution to getting the lights on?”
“Absolutely,” Joe said.
“What’s the difference between just a normal person and a genius?”
“Well, Steve, my sons will not give up. They will not quit. They will ask the right questions. They will dig deep into the problem and break it down.”
“Joe, we need to figure out how to get these lights on. This is a fundraiser. There’s a great purpose for this event. Plus, we’ve been working hard all day. I want to find a winner. We need to find the champion. Don’t you think we deserve to be playing right now?”
Joe paused for a moment and looked around at the field and the stands. Everyone else was sitting around drinking beer. They’d all given up. Then Joe said, “Let’s go walk around and see if we can figure this out on our own.”
We got up and started walking. And, wouldn’t you know it, within two minutes we found an electrical box. We opened it up. We saw a button.
Joe said, “Hey, Steve, should I push the button?”
I said, “Push the button, Joe.”
He pushed the button. The lights came on.
We saved the day. We were heroes.
Sure, this was just a softball tournament, but there are a few takeaway lessons here.
Half the battle is just showing up. Everybody else had given up. Sure, the director—the guy who was running the tournament—tried a couple things, but then he gave up. Nobody was trying to solve the problem. Everybody threw in the towel and popped open a beer.
If you are going to win a battle—weight loss, finances, athletic performance, career aspirations, whatever—the first thing you have to do is show up. So many people get in their own way. They convince themselves with negative self-talk: “I can't fix the problem. What do I know? If everyone else is here, there’s got to be someone who’s already trying that and not getting it done. What can I do?”
Another big part of the journey is asking the right questions. We asked the right questions, and doing that led us to taking action.
There had been a hundred other people there who could have easily asked these questions and taken action to get the lights turned on. But they didn’t. We did.
Show up. Ask the right questions. Think.
Don’t pass up your chance to be the hero in your own life.
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