Funny how things change as you grow up. I love everything about spaghetti. The way it tastes, how it twirls around your fork, and even the process you go through to prepare it as a meal. I didn’t always feel this way. In one of my previous articles, Reverse the Curse, you learned about a fussy young kid who didn’t eat all of his spaghetti dinner and was forced to it eat cold the next morning. That my friends, was a bad way to start the day. I just threw up a little bit in my mouth thinking about it. A “verp” if you know what I mean.
A long time ago I was talking with a friend about how you can learn something from every conversation you have regardless of who it is with. Anything from listening to the story of a homeless person on the side of the road to having an in-depth discussion about politics or religion with your close friends. If you give them the respect of listening to what they have to say versus just waiting to speak, you will learn something from or about them. Just hearing them is not enough. To me hearing is just gathering the audible sound of their voice. Listening is digesting and understanding what they are talking about.
In that vein I also believe we can learn from our kids. My two sons, Connor and Bryce, talk about some very random stuff and some of it is just complete nonsense. However, if I simply tune them out, or even worse interrupt them while they are speaking, I could miss something great in the development of them from boys to young men. Simply giving them my time and undivided attention shows that I respect and value them and the things they have to say.
Ok, have you asked yourself yet, “Billy, what in the world does this all have to do with spaghetti?!” I believe that every conversation you have with someone is the same as cooking a pot of spaghetti and now I am going to tell you why.
The Colander is Your Mind
So, lets discuss how we turn a bunch of stiff hard noodles that are trapped in a box, into a pliable delicious meal. You only need 5 things to do this: a stove, a pot, noodles, water and a colander. We all know how this goes. Ok, well some of you guys may not know how to do this. I have run across men who have absolutely no clue how to cook anything. If it wasn’t for our moms, wives, girlfriends or a restaurant we would have starved long ago. When we were younger my friend Danny used to joke that he was such a bad cook that he would burn his cereal in the morning. Sorry, that was a random rabbit trail. Let’s get back on track…
For starters, we turn the stove on high and put water in the pot. Once the water comes to a boil we toss in the noodles. At a certain point we decide that the noodles are cooked. By the way, I discourage you from throwing the noodles on the wall to see if they stick. Most women don’t like that. This is when the colander comes in to play. At this point we dump the contents that are in the pot, the noodles and water, into the colander. The noodles nestle into a nice pile of goodness inside of it, while the water drains out into the sink. If you are actually cooking spaghetti while reading this, make sure to use the sink. Otherwise your shoes will get all wet and you will have third degree burns on your feet.
Now let’s connect the dots. The conversation you have with someone are the contents inside the pot (water and noodles). The colander is your mind. The things that you agree with are the noodles. What you disagree with is the water. When you disagree with someone it’s nothing personal and may not even have to be discussed with them. You simply take the thing or things that you learned and put them in your memory bank to use it later. The other stuff just washes down the drain, maybe never to be seen or thought of again.
Turning the Noodles into a Program
I have been coaching baseball since 1993. My first job was a camp counselor for Doyle Baseball. I was still playing in college, so I didn’t get paid. I helped the professional coaches at the camp in Phoenix, AZ and in return got to work out in front of the pro scouts that were in attendance. I enjoyed it and eventually this turned into a 25 year professional playing and coaching career. Over that time, I learned a lot of baseball techniques from some very intelligent men. Some I liked and some I didn’t. Some things worked during that time period, but as the game has evolved, better ways to teach have surfaced.
In 2006, I started the youth baseball training company, Cactus Athletics. For the past 13 years we have been teaching players of all ages the “noodles” of what I have learned. Everything from the basic mechanics of how to throw a ball properly, to breaking down finite movements of a pitcher’s delivery. I have been blessed to spend time with people who have a master’s degree and specialize in bio mechanics to others who I have a random conversation with about hitting. I continue to keep my ears open to see if I can learn something so I can add another noodle to my colander.
Another part of this is purging the teaching methods that I don’t agree with anymore. Just because I taught you one way to hit eight years ago, doesn’t mean that it was the gospel truth and that there isn’t a better way. I developed a Coaches Manual about 12 years ago and as you can imagine it has gone through a lot of revisions over the years. I believe that we need to have a good balance of being open to what others think and also not paralyze ourselves through over analysis.
One thing to mention is that I am not trying to re-invent the wheel when it comes to coaching baseball. The players deserve the credit when they do well, which is something I talked about in the article A Belt without Notches. I just want to be the best coach possible so that the players who I am blessed to teach get excellent knowledge that when applied with their work ethic can blossom into something great. If you don’t do some purging, you will be hoarding a bunch of noodles and your colander will bust, which is equivalent to your brain melting, or something like that…..
Here are some points to think about this:
- Focus on listening to others and give them your full attention.
- Be open to learning new things about something that you are already really good at.
- Be willing to make changes and update your teaching methods.
- Reach out to someone you have not talked to in a long time and strike up a conversation.
- Show kindness to others and watch out for opportunities to spend time with them.