“There are three kinds of players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” -Tommy Lasorda
Probably more than a few times we’ve mentioned that baseball is a metaphor for life, preparing you for the real world. Welcome to the our Baseball Life Lessons series where we tell you why all that stuff we said is true! We’re covering Accountability and Responsibility in this column.
To be responsible is to be in charge of an endeavor or duty to which you have been delegated, and you will be subject to blame or even penalty if the duty hasn’t been completed.
To be accountable is to be entrusted with something, and you will be the individual that will be called into account for how that thing you were entrusted with carries out.
Are you confused yet? These two things sound awfully similar, but they are indeed different, and baseball is going to help us figure out the distinction.
You can kind of view accountability as the “next level up”to responsibility. Let’s check out the big business of the major leagues for a moment to give an example.
When an MLB team stops making its owners happy by not winning enough games, it’s the manager whose job is sacrificed. Managers are accountable for the team, and it doesn’t matter if the players aren’t as adept as past players, or if the team has a bunch of injuries, or any one of a gazillion reasons for why a team doesn’t play at peak performance. The baseball players have a responsibility to play well, but the manager is accountable to all of the players meeting their responsibilities, and ultimately, team performance as a whole (wins.) The manager’s main job is to create and maintain conditions for the team to play their best no matter what’s happening. And if a manager is in tune with the team, the team will want to help the manager stay in the job, and they’ll all help each other do the best they can. Helping each other is the essence of teamwork.
You have a responsibility to be the best player you can be for you, but you are accountable to your team and making choices that help all of you together.
Here then is “The Youth Baseball Player’s Ladder of Accountability”
1.) Not Aware/Unconscious: Oh, there was a game? Wait… there was practice? Man, I left my cleats and my uniform at home.
This level of consciousness holds the least amount of empowerment for a player.
2.) Point the Finger: No one told me or reminded me about the game/practice, that’s the coach’s job! Neither of my parents remembered to tell me either. Baseball is dumb, no one makes it interesting or fun for me.
3.) Ennui and Excuses: I’ve been sitting on the bench, what’s the use in trying if I’m never picked? I can’t fix it, there’s nothing to be done about it, so I’m not going to try. My gear bag is really heavy, it’s too big to lift and it’s made out of weird material.
4.) We’ll Just See: Whatever happens happens, guess I’ll just wait and hope something different occurs. Sigh. Maybe a miracle will fall out of the sky and I’ll become a really good pitcher overnight… but I don’t wanna do any drills.
5.) Reality Begins to Seep In: Yeah, I’ve messed up here and there, guess my preparation and attitude could’ve been better. I could’ve offered more encouragement to my team mates, I could’ve hustled more to first base even though I was mad that I didn’t hit a homer.
6.) Solutions: I’m ready to hear feedback and critiques of my playing and my game because I’m interested in improving.
7.) Owning It: I will enlist help from the team, managers and others to meet my duties, or I’ll find other ways of getting stuff done because I was entrusted with this, and it’s my job, no one else’s.
8.) TOTALLY Owning It: My game, my mechanics, my attitude, preparation, and performance are mine and mine alone on and off the field. I am completely responsible for what I say and what I do. This player has the most power to move forward and make things happen.
Can you see how one’s thinking can help shape a better individual and team player?
Honestly, everyone is moving up and down this ladder all the time. We all have these emotions and feelings from time to time, nobody’s perfect. But it helps to see how owning your intentions and your actions can really open up more possibilities for you. Being accountable brings more satisfaction when things go right, while owning responsibility allows you to improve and meet your goals.