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This article takes us back a few months into the middle of baseball season for “the little man,” otherwise known as Gavin, my elementary age cutie. Gavin’s team found themselves playing one of the best teams in the league, a team that actually went on to win the championship later that season. But on this particular day they were just another baseball team attempting to beat my son’s team, the Rangers, in a regular season game. What happened that day inspired me both personally and professionally.
Gavin’s team was good. But the other team was strong. They were confident. They executed the majority of the plays that came their way that day successfully. The score was 4-0. We were the zero, in case you were wondering. Hope was fading fast. In the third inning, Gavin was batting in the third slot. (Those of you that love baseball realize the significance of that particular spot in the batting order. For those of you who don’t, the number 3 and number 4 spots typically go to solid players the coach can count on to secure a hit, make it on base, and drive in runs. You can think of them as a bit of an insurance plan intended to set the team up for success…or go down swinging.)
Anyway, my kid’s team was losing. They had no runs. The other team, now up by four runs, brimmed with skill and confidence. Our team’s inspiration (or should I say, what little was left of it) was waning. The first two kids up to bat on our side struck out, one right after the other. Gavin was next up to bat. I expected him to feel defeated. To bow down to thoughts of an imminent loss; it hung thick in the invisible air. It would have been understandable, given the circumstances. He made his way toward the batter’s box. And when he did, I noticed something as he strode toward home plate. What I noticed was fire in his eyes. I know the look: fierce determination, the fighting spirit, the gaze you can’t deny. It’s the one that says, “Don’t count me out. I’m here to make things happen.” You can spot it from a mile off. He was in the zone. Winning, losing, or striking out swinging – he was all in. It took me aback. He didn’t care that his team was losing. He didn’t care that they had zero runs. He was going to give it all he had.
The first pitch flew through the air toward him, and he swung his bat around driving the ball out past the second baseline. Gavin furiously ran to first base. He looked pumped. He was amped. Energy was radiating off of him. He had every intention of making it onto second base. You could just tell. His intensity in that moment was tangible. The kid up next in the batting order stepped into the batter’s box. And what I heard next was inspiring, absolutely inspiring. It was the type of moment you want to tuck yourself into and remain in for awhile, although time keeps ticking by, forcing you into the next moment in time. I’m guessing you think he said something along the lines of, “Let’s go” or “Get a hit” or “You can do it.” Great guesses. But not even close. What he said was probably the most inspiring choice of words a boy on first base could possibly call out to a teammate in their current situation.
Standing with his red cleat outstretched off of first base, that same intensity still lurking beneath his determined eyes, Gavin turned to address the next batter. In a serious tone, fierce, confident, and filled with conviction and uttered less as a motivational suggestion and more in the form of an absolute command, what he said was:
“HIT ME HOME, Josh.”
(As in: Hit me there. I told you to – so do it. We both know you can. Make it happen.)
The former crew of nearly defeated boys seated in the dugout were suddenly up on their feet, cheering. Nothing had changed on the scoreboard. It was as though the imminent loss was no longer a guarantee. Hope was alive. Possibilities elevated. Inspiration uplifted, all at the command of one little boy on first base who refused to bow down to a preconceived reality. Pride washed over me. It was leadership on full display in the flesh form of an 8-year-old, one who made a critical decision to turn things around. to uplift a team for the better, in winning or in losing. In that moment, he became a leader, a leader in hope. He became the person to rally a team. As you can probably guess, our team went on to score seven runs in a row. Even kids who typically never hit the ball made their way around the bases. The team won the game. But the win was not what was significant that day. It was the rally cry that carried them there. That’s what really stuck.
As a “lifer” litigation paralegal, there have been many times in my career when I felt like I was on my way to sudden defeat. The project or task at hand – too big. The moving pieces required to make it happen – too many. The allotted time given to accomplish the task – far too short. The expectation for potential failure hung heavy in my heart and in the air. At times, the stress came in the form of one daunting task or dreadful deadline. I’d find myself facing what felt like a fast slide toward defeat, often walking myself half way down the ditch of the damned in my own mind, prior to even beginning to execute it. Other times it was an entire day’s chain of events – the type of day that takes a hard left turn (make that a really hard left turn) at some point after you take your seat behind that wooden desk, inadvertently finding yourself smack dab in the midst of a legal version of chaotic hell, the likes from which you never recover during eight hours spent spinning paper in the hot seat. Yep, those “fun” days that made me feel like I wanted to cash in my paralegal card for a low stress career or a beach house in the Bahamas. Been there. Done that. (Well, not the beach house part, but I’m sure you can relate.)
It is on those days when we bear the weight of a looming deadline, an array of unforeseeable obstacles, the dreaded last minute project, a stressed out boss, seemingly insurmountable situations or unrealistic expectations that press down upon us with tremendous force and make us want to surrender, to give up, to say, “Just forget it. It’s not possible. There isn’t enough time,” to throw our hands (and our hearts) up in defeat, the type of moments that leave us wondering how anyone could accomplish the task that now sits before us, taunting us from the wood-grained periphery. That stress is sometimes created by the bosses for whom we work, and other times it is created within the thoughts swirling inside our own minds. I’m sure you’ve been there, probably a multitude of times, if you’ve worked in the legal field any length of time.
But if you stick around the legal profession long enough, you will realize there comes a day (often when you find yourself plodding your way through a hellish task or big case) when you’ll observe one person who steps up, elevates a team, and leads a team toward victory, on a particular task, a big project, or even during trial in a courtroom: One person who will take a stand. One person who will believe in what is possible. One person filled with fierce determination that makes the decision to lay it all on the line rather than bowing down to mediocrity or defeat. One person who will lead the rally. One person who will become a dealer in hope. One person who will step up to lead, whether it’s an important project, a room of people, a rally cry, or a team all the way to victory. The one person who will inspire those around him through his words, confidence, conviction, and action to be better than they thought they could be. Each and every day, that one person could be you.
You can be the one: to inspire greatness. to issue a rally call, to inspire others, to lead those around you through every obstacle, around every uncertainty, and toward the light of victory with a fighting spirit, win or lose. If you step up to be a leader, it won’t be the win that is significant on that day. It will be the person you’ll become in that moment, whether you’re standing with your red cleat hanging off of first base or a black stiletto clinging to the carpet in a law firm or courtroom: A person who leads, one who inspires, the one others look to when they find themselves dancing along that fine line that exists between possibility and winning, victory and defeat, stepping up or bowing down. Each and every day, that one person could be you.
So take a step away from mediocrity. Wake up. Switch off the auto pilot. Realize all that you are, all that you could be. Bid the potential for failure farewell. Say hello to striving, seeking, committing, never yielding, and making your way toward greatness in your own way, on any given day, in any given challenge, in any group of people, in spite of it all. To hell with the obstacles. To hell with defeat. Become the one who changes EVERYTHING.
Hit ‘em home.
Reprinted with permission from The Paralegal Society, a forum created to educate, motivate, and inspire paralegals.
About the Author
Jamie Collins is the Founder and Owner of The Paralegal Society™. Jamie currently works as a senior level Litigation Paralegal at the firm of Yosha Cook Shartzer & Tisch, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. She also writes a popular litigation column entitled “KNOW Business” for KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals and is a Guest Blogger on The Estrin Report, which is the only paralegal blog featured on law.com.