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How to Become a Big League Leader

Little League Leaders are pretty. Big League Leaders walk with a limp.

Little League cp. Big League:

Knocked down:

You don’t know what you’re made of when you’re a Little League Leader. The only way to learn what you’re made of is to get knocked down a few times.

When you feel like quitting, but stick with it, you’re on your way to the big leagues. If you run off the field because leading is difficult, your team is better without you.

Getting knocked down has two advantages. First, you learn what you’re made of. Second, it toughens you. The first time you get knocked down you think it’s the end of the world.

The only way to get tough is to get up after being knocked down. Big League Leaders know that getting knocked down makes the game interesting, painful, and worth playing.

Any game you can’t lose is unfulfilling. If you never lose – the game is drudgery.


Little League Leaders whine when things aren’t fair. Someone else gets more credit than they receive. Boohoo!

Others seem to get more advantages. Your boss doesn’t appreciate you. Poor baby!

Big League Leaders tighten their belts in the face of inequity. They rub some dirt in their hands and step up to the plate with greater determination. Little League Leaders cry to mamma when things aren’t fair.

You have to crawl through the mud of unfairness to reach the big leagues. If you can’t overcome your natural bitterness at unfairness, you will always be a Little League Leader.

The person who works the hardest doesn’t always get the promotion. But Big League Leaders work hard anyway.

Being liked:

Big League Leaders need to be liked a little less than Little League Leaders. When you’re in Little League you get discouraged easily and need lots of encouragement.

Encouragement is a good thing. Grit is a great thing.

Being right:

Big League Leaders don’t need to be right all the time. But Little League Leaders throw the bat when someone corrects them. They take it personally when you suggest they could be wrong.

If people have to dance around your thin skin, you’re a Little League Leader.

Needing help:

Little League Leaders feel they know. Others need help. They don’t.

Big League Leaders actively seek help. They know that others have more talent than they do in many areas.

General observations:

If you’ve been in management for a year or two, you’re still in the Little League. Sweat is the only path to Big League Leadership. You have to stink before you get to the Big League.

Age doesn’t make a you a Big League Leader. We all know old leaders who play like Little Leaguers. There are five key factors for reaching the Big League.

  1. Talent.
  2. Sweat that comes from grit.
  3. Learning from failure.
  4. Training with coaches and mentors.
  5. Hard earned successes. Easy success makes you think you’re better than you are.

It’s true that there are a few uniquely talented people who don’t have to work hard. Players like Babe Ruth, for example. You aren’t one of them.

The long-term view:

The thing you think is a curse today will one day be a viewed as a gift. Remember the teacher you hated because she expected excellence from you. When you reach the Big Leagues, you thank her.

Running from adversity and difficulty limits your potential and drains your fulfillment.

I’m not making light of distress, adversity, or pain. All I’m saying is today’s distress helps you become a better leader tomorrow.

I’m not suggesting you seek adversity. But it wouldn’t hurt to stretch yourself.

Ease and comfort are the enemies of growth, development, and excellence. 


Deep fulfillment comes from hard fought battles. The harder you work, the more fulfilling the win. Easy wins are fun, but not richly fulfilling.

The more times you get up after being knocked down, the richer the win feels.

How might Little League Leaders reach the Big League?

*I relax my 300 word limit on the weekends.

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