This last Friday night, I had the opportunity to see something that brought pure joy to my heart – my son Trevor and his Little League team, The Rays, were playing for the Little League Championship. And, I almost missed it.
Back up a couple of weeks…
I had booked a speaking engagement for a Saturday morning breakfast meeting for a group of men in Sacramento, CA. I was planning on speaking to them on creating breakthrough relationships in all areas of life – from personal to professional. And, it was perfect because the evening before, my best friend was throwing a party to celebrate his oldest son’s engagement – and he lives only a few miles from where I was scheduled to speak. “Great!” I thought, as I made plans to drive down the Friday evening before, attend the party, and speak the next morning before heading back to Reno.
As the Little League season went on, Trevor’s team continued to play well, and eventually earned the #2 seed going into their end-of-season tournament. They won their first two games, and wound up in the Championship game – which was, of course, the same night I was going to be in Sacramento celebrating with close friends.
“That’s okay,” I reasoned to myself, as I made mental plans to drive down as previously decided. “I’ve been to most of his games this season, he’ll understand if I’m not there for this one. Everyone else in the family will be there. Besides, if I wait to drive down after the game, I’ll miss the party.”
At this point, the voice of reason was nowhere to be found. That is, until my wife mentioned it to me and asked what I was going to do. We discussed it very briefly, and honestly I was feeling selfish, and not wanting to budge on my position. She looked at me with great conviction in her eyes and quietly said, “I know what I would do. It’s a no-brainer.”
And I knew she was right, which only made me want to dig my heels in a little more. It was a no-brainer. Decisions like that one can only be made in the heart, not the head. So, I decided I would stay for the game and leave as soon as it was over. I’ll get there later than planned, but I’m sure there will still be people there.
I was also going to meet with Lee, the man who asked me to speak to his group the next day, as he would be at the party. We would review some of the final details, and tie up any loose ends.
Thursday night, as I was driving to a client meeting, I gave him a quick call to let him know of the change in plans. As we talked, I told him about my son’s baseball game, and my desire to see him play. Of course, Lee was incredibly supportive and said he’d do the same thing. I said, “You know, Lee, I really feel the need to be there because when I was about 9 or 10 years old, my Little League team was playing for the city championship,” the words stuck in my throat as they brought back some long-ago-forgotten hurt that still lurked in the shadows of memory, “and my dad wasn’t there to see me play. And I was heartbroken.”
My voice cracked as I said those words, and the tears began to flow, as I was suddenly thrust back in time to that day when I was the same age as my boy… and my dad had let me down. And in that moment I knew. I had to be there. There was no question.
Later that night, I was talking with some family friends, and telling them about my conversation and its impact on me. Their 12-year-old daughter said something to me that I’ll never forget. She looked at me with wisdom well beyond her years, and said, “You know, you’ll be changing your life by about 3 hours. But you may be changing his life forever.”
Well, game night came, and unfortunately Trevor’s team came up short in the run column. They fought hard, and it was heartbreaking to see these little men, who battled all year, and wanted so badly to win, realize that for this year, at least, that dream was gone.
I walked up to Trevor after the coach addressed the team, I gently placed my hand on his shoulder, and as he looked up at me I said, “Trevor, I am so proud of you!” And the tears that poured from his eyes broke my heart. And that’s when I really knew – there was no way I could have ever missed this moment. It wasn’t about the game. It was about this very moment… in sharing his heartbreak, and loving him, that I was truly showing him a father’s love.
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work