Dad, what does your crystal ball tell you?
"If you could see five, ten, even twenty years into the future at what your children have become and what they have achieved, would you dare to look? If you know you have a son that wants to play at the highest level of baseball, would you want take a peek to see if he fulfills his dream?"
These are some of the questions posed and reflected upon by Castle Hill Baseball Club President Mark Maguire, who has kindly provided us with a series of his “Dad” features over the past twelve months.
Fascinating and compulsive reading that we recommend to all of those parents, coaches and mentors with an interest in the personal growth of our young people.
Dad, what does your crystal ball tell you?
(Your son’s baseball outcome has everything to do with his self-motivation)
If you could see five, ten, even twenty years into the future at what your children have become and what they have achieved, would you dare to look? If you know you have a son that wants to play at the highest level of baseball, would you want take a peek to see if he fulfills his dream? Scary thought isn’t it? If you saw your son didn’t make the majors because it was something that you had an influence over, would you change what it was, to somehow change the outcome?
I want to say this from the outset: There are plenty of talented players that haven’t made it; plenty who are respectful and admirable human beings; plenty with parents who not only wanted the best for their child but also raised them with the idea that a good character is the most important quality a man can have.
However, let’s presume your son makes it. He has done his time in the minor leagues and is called up to the ‘show’. And let’s not presume it is a brief calling but one that is permanent. What are the characteristics in your son that have gotten him there? With all things being equal, presuming he has the athletic skill and the power to be there, what has got him there and helped him stay there, in the glamorous world of major league baseball?
After you have gone away and given these aspiring qualities some thought, give yourself a reality check. Are these qualities already embedded in yours and your son’s character? Are they qualities you are pursing? Or if you’re up to it, and this is an extremely humble thing to do, ask someone whom you trust, someone who won’t tell you what you want to hear, someone you will listen to, ask them what you or your son is like? You will learn more from this than anything else. This may be one of the biggest questions you will ever ask in life. It will be one of the hardest and you may not like what you hear… but, sometimes we need to hear it.
First and foremost, your child needs self-motivation. Let me repeat that hyphenated word: self-motivation. You and your child may be complete mongrels (replace that word with any other choice word you might have been called); not many people like you, or your child for that fact. But if your child is skilled and self-motivated, it really doesn’t matter. Good chance your child will get his shot. No one may like him as a person but he will be liked as a player because he can help a coach win games.
I can’t explain where this self-motivation comes from. It almost has to be called the gift in the package your son presents. Not many have it. All those making some grade will have talent. Some have awesome talent. You can try to motivate all you like, try to inspire all you like, try dangling any carrot you like, but if that motivation is not captured for oneself… good luck. Self-motivation is the driving force.
Self-motivation will be the catalyst for bouncing back after failure—and your son will sleep with failure more nights than he sleeps with success. How does he deal with failure/setbacks now? How do YOU deal with failure/setbacks? Not his, but yours?
Our children love the game and sometimes can’t understand our frustration when they don’t perform to what we expect of them. They live with our excuses and our finger pointing, all stemming from our own deep frustration and regret of failing to achieve ‘the dream’ ourselves. Tough truth to deal with.
Self-motivation will be a vehicle for their determination through the hard grind—and the hard grind will be your kid’s middle name. There are nicer terms for it: ‘tenacity’ being one. Maybe ‘struggle’. Definitely ‘true-grit’.
It is a tough job being a parent but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here is why it is so tough. We are being watched twenty-four hours a day. A lot of your child’s characteristics are learnt from you. They learn very little from you verbally. They learn from your example. They watch you. They sense everything. They love you. They follow you. They want to be loved by you and desire your attention. They see how we react to setbacks, good times, and frustrations, how we love and respond to love, what’s important to us and what’s not.
The one thing we can’t give them is passion. That is something magical that children capture inside themselves. Something triggered them. We may be able to guess that trigger. Or even better, we may get a clear answer from our child what that trigger was.
I have no idea how well my own son will do in the game. However, I can remember what he told me what triggered him to pursue baseball as his sport over all else. He said at the age of eight he was hearing from other children and adults that he was really good. He believed what they said and this fuelled him to want to get better at the game.
I asked my son a few days ago—he is now thirteen playing in the Junior League—how can parents help their children play the game better at your age? Without hesitation, he said, “It is best to leave my game and skills up to the coaches. Dad, you need to help me with the mental side of the game—the mental side to life. That’s your job now.”
This is no small task. And the meat of this will be for another blog, another day.
I choose not to want to know what outcome the crystal ball reveals. Sometimes I do. I don’t know why, but I do. Would I put the same effort, time and money into my son playing this game if I knew the outcome already? I guess that is why the idea of the crystal ball is a beautiful metaphor that only has a moral to a story.
Let go of the outcomes, they take care of themselves. Your son has an outcome in mind. With self-motivation he will be willing to run through walls to live that outcome.
President Castle Hill Baseball Club
Australian Baseball Alumni extends its appreciation to Mark Maguire for inviting us to share another excellent, thought-provoking feature article with our members and supporters.