So Simple, Even a 3rd Grader Can Do It

One of the particular joys of fatherhood at this time in my life is having a 9-year-old son who plays Little League baseball. While there’s all kinds of ways for dads and sons to connect and build a strong and lasting relationship, baseball holds a special place for me and my son. I didn’t even play much as a kid but I certainly remember those all too rare occasions when my dad and I would “have a catch.” Sure, I romanticize it plenty, but something about this time together provides an opportunity for interaction and conversation that just doesn’t happen as easily anywhere else.

So there we are last week, having a catch in the late afternoon when my son offers up with some pride that he was recently selected as a “Team Captain” in his 3rd grade classroom. He was chosen to lead the “Gold” team in an academic competition that will play out in the coming months. Not only is he the captain of the Gold team, he shares, but his squad has already taken a commanding lead over the languishing “Blue” team.

“How did that happen?,” I ask. And he tells me that he was very careful about how he selected his team. So now I realize I’m at one of those moments where I’m going to learn something of real value from my child and he’s more than ready to share a recipe that has become painfully obvious to him. Here’s his selection criteria (with my interpretation in parentheses):

  1. people who don’t get “pink slips” (3rd grade language for people who stay focused on the task at hand)
  2. people who are good at things I’m not good at (shoring up my weaknesses with other people’s strengths)
  3. people who treat others with respect (no interpretation necessary)

To say I am proud of him is to say too little. What blew me away was how easy it was for him to recognize what so many of us have such a hard time getting right. Jim Collins told us in “Good to Great” to “get the right people on the bus” and yet we let it get so complicated. Can they do the work? Do they complement my skill set? Do they care about others and demonstrate it?

Oh, and the last thing that was obvious to him: “I chose as many girls as possible.”


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