Leaving Nothing on the Field: An Ode to Playing a 12 Year Old Game

140824201116-01-little-league-0824-horizontal-large-galleryI was out to dinner with my family after one of my son’s high school baseball games.  We had a great win and were celebrating when a text came from my son’s coach saying congratulations and how he had played a 12 year old’s game.  That was intriguing to me, so I asked what exactly was that?  I guess it’s a common adage in baseball and means you get to play it all (pitch, hit, field) and leave nothing on the field.  12 year olds in Little League get that feeling on good days, when they get to pitch, catch, play infield, outfield and hit over-the- fence home runs.  It’s a beautiful thing, when the game is simpler and offers more joy on long spring evenings.

And then those 12 year old moments begin to become rarer, as players age and get identified in specific positions, playing out the roles expected of them. Basically real life, “adult stuff.”  High school ball models this kind of hierarchy in many ways, with pecking orders, defined roles and formal/informal leadership. But once in a while you get that old feeling back, when magic happens and roles expand and you hit one out of the park or pitch a shut out game, or both; leaving nothing on the field.

What are our own stories of hitting it out of the park?  What did it take to make that feeling become a reality?  Was it private or public, or a little of both?  There is a lot to learn from the mentality of a 12 year old’s approach, being fearless and loose, with nothing to lose.  It’s expanding rather than contracting, and also a lot of fun.  I would argue that when roles get too narrowly defined and expectations become pre-scripted, the joy begins to dissolve and can begin to feel more like drudgery.

So it’s a conundrum, as we sort out our own inner 12 year old spirit and spunk. My guess is it’s still there, waiting to come out and play.  Try exploring how your own personal narrative helps you to reflect back and look forward.  Ask yourself some questions, for example:

  1. When was the last time you felt you hit it out of the park?  Was it through work, sports, school, or something deeply personal you overcame?
  2. Take yourself back to that moment in time.  Explore your senses to appreciate how it felt to be on top of the world.  Describe these feelings in more detail.
  3. Write a story about this experience, coming from the voice of the age you were when it happened.  Play close attention to not judging this narrative, as you may have been more naive and hopeful back then.
  4. Find something presently you would like to aim for, that feels like you would be playing up, say to a 12 year old level with that swagger and fearlessness.  Set a goal that has a date and approach this priority with joy and fun and tell someone your plan so you have accountability.

I’d love to hear about it.  I will be sharing mine soon, after I finish my own assignment.  Send me your 12 year old story at julia@personalmasterycoaching.com

 

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