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Never Out of It

Life has once again given us a crystal clear reminder that competition reigns supreme…and that you’re only out of a game when you decide you are (or the buzzer sounds!).

Every summer, the Little League World Series showcases the best of the best on both the domestic and international fronts. Pre-adolescent baseball players take their swings and get their earliest test of global competition.

This year’s American Finals featured two teams from two states (Tennessee and California) who combined to score 40 runs in one 7-inning game. In fact, Tennessee 12-year-old Lorenzo Butler tied a Little League World Series record by hitting three homeruns in the same game; his three, 3-run homers also made him the first ever to have 9 RBI in the same contest. But those feats and the 24-16 final score were just the footnote in an amazing lesson.

Trailing 15-5 in the 6th inning, the team from California faced elimination but NEVER gave up. As the team from California prepared for its final at-bat, the announcers in the booth said this: “No team has ever come back from this many runs this late in a World Series game.” Good thing the kids weren’t listening. California then did what no team had ever done…score 10 runs in that inning to tie the game! Prior to the 6th inning, all of their plans had fallen short but rather than add to their own demise, they added runs to the scoreboard. A remarkable inning of perseverance and resilience saw the young men from California tie the game and send it into extra innings.

This team chose to ignore the odds and instead welcomed the opportunity for greatness. The world of sports and business is full of people who give up when things don’t go according to plan. But some of the greatest in either realm have cashed in on the chance to look at the opportunity rather than the odds.

But there’s more! That same thirst for greatness that California quenched in their 10-run comeback now stared the Tennessee team in the face. With a tie ballgame and the momentum now going California’s way, the kids from the Volunteer State also had the chance to pick opportunity over the odds. Rather than falling completely apart, they regrouped and scored 9 runs of their own to win it in extra innings.

On the brink of failure and disappointment, these Little Leaguers refused to count themselves out. They understood the odds but embraced the opportunity for success.

Which do you find yourself thinking about most often, odds or opportunity?

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Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)

About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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