Over the spring and summer I threw my hat in to become the head coach of my 2 older son’s baseball team. Originally, I wasn’t planning on being the head baseball coach for my kids, sure I always volunteer to help on any team they’re on, but with an unpredictable work schedule and other volunteer commitments I was happy being an assistant. However, as the season quickly approached I realized that most parents are in a similar position and when I found out there were a shortage of volunteers, I raised my hand.

Jeff O'Leary and Ryan O'Leary

Sitting in the dugout, preparing the lineup for my first game as head coach!

While excited for the opportunity, I was reluctant because as a kid and teenager I played a high level of baseball. I loved the sport and would practice and play with my friends any chance I got. I was hard on myself to always get better and I was worried this would rub off on my coaching style. Over the years I witnessed a lot of youth sports coaches act this way, and in the process managed to take the fun out of it.

Luckily, the season turned out much differently than I had feared, and I learned many unexpected things that have helped me as a coach, father and even in my real estate business. The following are 2 lessons I learned being a baseball coach.

Being a Baseball Coach is harder than it looks!

I’m sure every father has at one time or another thought to themselves as they watch their kids coach make a questionable decision, “What is he doing? I can do this job a thousand times better than him!”

Well, probably not. Unless you’re highly experienced coach with a team of future major leaguers you soon realize that getting another human being to do what you want them to do, even if it will make them better, is more difficult than it looks.

Take for example teaching a kid how to properly throw a ball. Without getting into details here, all I’ll say is that proper throwing is a fundamental skill in baseball. It’s one of the foundations a player needs to be successful and even professional players take time to practice their throwing. The problem is that practicing throwing is not exciting! Every kid wants to pitch, but if they can’t throw to home plate or hit the side of a barn what’s the use?

It’s the same in real estate, many people expect to sell their home for as much money as possible but aren’t willing to put in the hard work of properly preparing their home for sale. As a coach or real estate broker, I can only say that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Patience and perseverance is key.

Things don’t always work out the way you thought they would when you’re a Baseball Coach!

Even more important, what I learned from coaching baseball is that you can’t take setbacks seriously, especially if what happened is out of your control. For example, being in a close game where you have chance to win only to have the umpire not call a strike that’s obviously right down the middle. Sometimes a misplaced call can lead to turning the tide in a game. Your pitcher gets frustrated, and then gets thrown off their game.

Dealing with the unexpected is an important lesson for kids, we have to accept theirs randomness to the game, life and business, but at the same time skill does usually prevail in the long run. It’s the same in real estate, I’ll have clients disappointed that they were outbid when trying buy their dream house, or that the other agent was not acting in the most transparent way. It happens, but it’s the way you react to the unexpected that ultimately controls your experience.

Funny, what I do find is that if we accept that sometimes things don’t work out, we focus on what we can control and at the end of the day things have a way of working out even better. It’s all about trusting the process, and focusing on what we can control.

At the end of the day, being a baseball coach was for me an eye opening experience. It has a little bit of everything, frustration, fun, nervousness and excitement. That, I think, is what will keep me coming back to coaching — being able to learn from the kids and also to see the positive influence you have had over another person.

  • The Village Guru
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