“You got this!” Those three little words can go a long way toward healing. Healing from the toxicity of shame that affects so many people’s lives. The more we hear those words, and the more we use them in our own conversations, the better off we will all be. It’s my firm conviction that developing a regular habit of using those words (and, more importantly, being conscious of why we use those words) can save the world. You may laugh, but keep reading.
In “Swing for the Fences: Show up. Dig in. Suck less.” I talk about marinating in Little League affirmation. All game long, wherever you look, players, coaches, fans, even umpires, all chatter non-stop with words of encouragement. You will hear, “atta boy,” “atta girl,” “good cut,” “good eye,” “good hustle,” and so on throughout the game. The over-arching theme is “you got this!” Errant throws, called third strikes, dropped fly balls, and other goof-ups are countered with more encouraging words like “shake it off,” “that’s okay–next time,” “let it go–get the next one,” and so on. Players don’t have time to feel shame. Their team needs them to focus their best energies to the tasks at hand. Ragging on people isn’t helpful. We need to call out everyone’s best.
The reality is, most of the time, especially when it comes to batting, players do not “got this.” That’s a clumsy sentence, but what I mean is that batters are considered to be phenomenal hitters if they go 3 out of 10. Succeeding three times out of ten is HUGE in the game of baseball. It seems strange to say to people who fail more than twice as many times as they succeed, “wow, you really have this mastered. You got this!” Where else would we ever do that?!? We would do that if we were in a situation where my sense of well-being mattered because the well-being of the community and its success mattered more. I matter, because we matter.
It takes courage to step up to bat as a Little Leaguer. Hope, faith and trust I would add. “Courage” because as a batter I’m never quite sure where the ball will travel between pitcher and catcher (I hate getting hit by pitches). But also “courage” because what I do or don’t do will impact my team as they count on me to help advance the score. “Hope” because I know that as I do my best so too will they – and we could win as a result. “Faith” because I believe in my ability to do my best, I’ve practiced and I’ve dug in. My attitude and effort will suffice. “Trust” because, as my team counts on me, so do I count on them. I trust that they will show up and dig in.
The hardest part might be “trust.” In order to trust someone, I have to risk vulnerability; weakness, fear, uncertainty is a part of it. Imagine a world where were all did our best for the sake of our community – and beyond. We trusted others to do the same, knowing that I matter because we matter. A violence-free, pollution-free, justice-filled world is dependent upon what I do or don’t do…and others living likewise for the good of the whole.
Seem impossible? Try an experiment: use Little League affirmation in all your conversations for the next two weeks. Take stock of how people respond. Notice what changes surface in interactions and/or conditions around the office, home or elsewhere. If 3 out of 10 successes at bat are phenomenal in baseball, where people marinate in affirmation, maybe a “you got this” message could result in positive changes in our world. Small, but significant changes, until as a whole we exhibit that “you got this” mentality of Little League. Wow. I believe it could very well save us!