Big League Chew

Stepping up to the plate. As kids, we cannot wait to take our turn. We salivate to be older, to experience what our sisters and brothers enjoy. We are not concerned about abandoning the confines of our childhood because there is adventure waiting.

Eventually, we join the work world. Without much real world experience, we start at or near the bottom. Someone sees potential and believes in our thirst to succeed. Our first resume is a patchwork of part time jobs, volunteering and potentially relevant school study.

During the interview, we see that these interviewers are serious. This is no paper route, this is a real job. The questions are about the future and how we will perform in this job if they offer it. Where will you be in five years? How do you handle conflict? We hear things that challenge us, which is the point. Questions we never thought about, but we must quickly react and take our best swing. The idea is not to strike us out, but to see how we read the question and respond. I would learn much later, interviewers want spontaneity and honesty, not rehearsed answers. Don’t tell us what we want to hear, tell us about you.

After a few years, we move on to a different job. It seems we quickly begin to look forward, maybe even on day-one. We see other people, higher up, and think: “I can do that”. Ambition. Impatience. Arrogance. Youth.

Job after job, our intent is greater challenge and greater reward. We build our resume and expand our network of contacts and friends.

Our career journey is like working our way up the farm club system. When we have exhausted organizational opportunities, we go elsewhere, like free agents.

One day, we discover that the former ten-year old is now in charge, and all former ten-year olds are running the country and Fortune 500 companies. How did that happen? Yesterday’s youth are today’s leaders and decision-makers.

From delivering papers and sacking groceries, to building roads and performing surgery, our fingerprints mark our community and the lives of others.

We used to worry about money for comic books and matinee tickets, now we are on a body to levy taxes and decide which loans to approve at the bank.

On a summer afternoon many years past, we played sandlot baseball. The ball didn’t curve, but it sailed over the plate. Hours of practice taught me to focus on the ball, choke up on the bat and not close my eyes. The bat met the ball and flittered past the infield. The start of a great baseball career? No. Chicks might love the long ball, but most of us walk or move the runner on a fielder’s choice. No glory, just a little satisfaction. We all dream of hitting a homerun in the bottom of the ninth, but more games end with a pop-up or grounding into a double play.

In baseball, success is getting three hits out of ten plate appearances. In life, we expect a higher average.  Baseball gave us a taste of success even if it was a wad of chewing gum.

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