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Hold yourself accountable

For many, the warmer weather is a sign of the spring and summer seasons we have longed for throughout those cold, dreary winter days. In many cases, those signs point to the start of the spring sports season, birds chirping, sitting on the porch and enjoying a glass of lemonade or tea, planting flowers or just doing some much needed spring cleaning.

For me, those are things I looked forward to while I am cooped up in the house for those months during the winter. But at the same time, while we may be stuck inside, those winter months provide us the opportunity to reflect on a myriad of things in our lives. It can be something individual, family related, our jobs, our faith.

Something I always try to do is reflect on various things, pray for guidance and look for opportunities to be a better husband, father, coach and Christian. That reflection was culminated in something I read this week. Of course, being a coach, my attention perked when I found the story that had been shared and popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. After reading the story, I quickly gained a great perspective that hit the nail squarely on the head for me and can be applied to everything we do in life.

The story was written by Chris Sperry, who gave his personal recollection about a speech given at a baseball coaches convention back in 1996 by John Scolinos, who was a very successful baseball coach at the collegiate level. At the time of the speech, Scolinos was 78 years old and retired from coaching, but got up to give his speech and stepped on stage with home plate hanging around his neck. After a while, he finally began to speak about why he had home plate draped around his neck.

Within this convention, coaches from Little League to the majors were represented, and the speaker asked them how wide home plate was. The answer, of course, is 17 inches wide. That means a 12 year-old player is held accountable to throw a pitch over the same width as the best pitchers in the world if he wants the pitch to be called a strike.

The moral of the story was that we cannot, and should not, widen the plate regardless of what we are doing if we want to achieve the goals we set. Widening the plate so you can hit a goal doesn’t help that person be accountable for reaching for a standard.

But this doesn’t only apply to sports. This concept is applicable to our lives, our jobs, our families and our faith.

With our children, do we set standards for them, but continually “widen the plate” when it relates to raising them? If we tell them to clean their room by a certain time and they don’t, but then tell them it is OK to have it done the next day, we aren’t doing our jobs as parents to teach them responsibility and accountability. We have just widened the plate.

The same can be said for our jobs and careers. Do we set goals and then widen the plate to meet them? What about our faith? Do we widen the plate there, too?

Please don’t get me wrong, there are situations where flexibility is needed and I am guilty of widening the plate just like anyone else.

But if we are going to realize our full potential as individuals, companies, communities, states and as a nation, we have to quit widening the plate.

If you want to read the full story, and I encourage everyone to do so, you can find it here: http://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/