Building Character Through Accountability

May 21, 2024

The weather last weekend was beautiful, and I was blessed to be able to spend Saturday watching my son Brody’s team play their opening games of the season. I know that some (including many of your) boys have been playing for several weeks now, but we get started a little later. This team of boys has been blessed for several years to have the same great head coach, Rob Newberry, for both basketball and baseball. He believes in completing one season before starting the next. He develops them with great knowledge of the game and confident feedback, and though we start later than most, by the end of the season, these boys are very competitive. He coaches hard and treats them fairly, and the kids love and respect him for the accountability he provides. The accountability that comes with that culture is the basis for this week’s thoughts.

Our team lost to the tournament champions 9-8, and the accountability in the dugout after the game was fantastic. Rob talked to the team about owning the mistakes that led to our loss. It wasn’t a scolding; rather, the boys understood that they’ll need to clean those things up if they want to be champions. During one of the games, my son missed a routine fly ball. He looked like he had the ball tracked, but it ended up landing just beyond his reach. On the next play, he made a diving catch of a line drive, so I assumed he lost the first ball in the sun. After the game, we were chatting, and I asked him if he lost that ball in the sun. His reply was my favorite moment of the weekend. He said, “No, I just messed up. I should have hustled back harder so that I could come forward and read it better. Instead, I was lazy, and the ball carried farther than I thought it would. That won’t happen again.”

For me, having my son take that level of accountability was a great moment. My heart swelled with pride when he took ownership of his mistake, and it really hit home how important it is to build this kind of accountability not just in sports, but in every part of life. Owning up to our mistakes and learning from them isn’t just about getting better at a game; it's about building the kind of character and toughness that lasts a lifetime.

The idea of being accountable, where mistakes are chances to get better and learn, is something we can all bring into our daily lives. Whether it’s at work, with our families, or with friends, admitting our slip-ups and learning from them makes us better. Just like my son’s coach, who teaches with a mix of fairness and firmness, we can all inspire respect and a real desire to improve, wherever we are.

Also, this teaches us about being humble and the real strength it takes to admit when we’re wrong. In a world that often puts too much value on being perfect, showing that it's okay to be less than perfect as long as you’re trying your hardest is a powerful lesson. Constantly learning and improving is summed up in one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” By being a good example of how to handle our own mistakes, we encourage others to keep pushing forward, not by being perfect, but by sticking to it and getting back up when they fall.

So, as we move through this week, let’s think about how we handle our own errors and how we react when others mess up. Are we giving the kind of feedback that helps and lifts others up? Are we showing how to be accountable in ways that we want to see in those around us? And are we giving ourselves and others the chance to learn and grow from these moments?

That leads me to this week’s challenge: find one chance to show accountability in a way that helps someone grow. It could be admitting a mistake, giving someone a helpful tip, or just being there for someone who’s having a tough time.

Final note: Brody learned from that mistake. During the final game, with the bases full and one out he got behind a fly ball, made the catch, and delivered a great throw to home doubling off the runner tagging from 3rd. It was my 2nd favorite moment from the weekend.