Baseball, Winning, and Higher Purpose

I have a friend who was finishing his education in medicine.  When he first arrived here he lived in a nearby town that puts a great emphasis on Pee Wee Baseball.  In that town there is one coach who is extremely competitive and drives the small children to win.  Every year his team does win.  Yet he is hated by the other coaches. They abhor how he drives the children.

My friend told me two interesting things.  First the other coaches want to beat the competitive coach so badly, that they begin to imitate what he does.  To beat him they treat their players as he treats his.  In order to win, the other coaches begin to become what they hate.

Second, my friend told the parents of his players that his prime objective was to build confidence in each child.  So he would not continually assign the worst players to places where the ball is least often hit.  Every inning, he would rotate every child to a new position.  His team began to win and it kept winning.  As the final, championship games approached, some of his team parents suggested that it might be time to regulate the worst players to the least vulnerable positions.  He told them no.

He ended up winning all the games.  His team even beat the team of the competitive coach.  When my friend reflected on what transpired he realized that his novel policy produced an unanticipated strategic advantage.  In rotating the players, they did gain confidence and the worst players became acceptable players.  Almost all of these acceptable players ended up getting key hits or making key defensive plays in key games at the end of the season.  They loved playing baseball and they loved being on the team.

Because my friend was internally directed, he could withstand external pressure.  Because he came to the task with a higher purpose, he could pursue winning from a more innovative, developmental perspective. Higher purpose tends to engender creative engagement, novel experiments, unique strategies, and the evolution of new capacities. Here there is a paradox that tends to deny conventional logic.  New capacities tend to give rise to strategic advantages that lead to winning.


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