In its 68 years running, the Little League World Series has seen only 18 girls play in the tournament which has now hosted more than 9,000 players. But Mo'ne Davis is the first among them to pitch a shutout game. And while she and her teammates may be out of the series, that technicality should no less diminish the importance of this message: one of the most valuable lessons in life is learning that you need other people. The Win Within is about relationships and mentoring. Nobody achieves greatness, breaks down barriers and sets records alone.
Mo'ne's story has been told time and again, chronicled by the likes of ESPN and Sports Illustrated. It's one that I have seen in countless elite athletes and other victors in life. And it's part of the reason I wrote The Win Within – Capturing Your Victorious Spirit. Piecing all of the news articles about Mo'ne together distills for anyone some of the key ingredients for sports and life success. But behind all of those "you can do anything you set your mind to" messages is an even bigger notion: You can't and shouldn't do it alone.
Relationships and Mentoring are part of The Big Five that I wrote about quite a bit in my book. Steve Bandura, the recreation center coach hailed for "discovering" Mo'ne saw her for the first time when she was playing football and he invited her to a basketball practice. He has been quoted as saying of her first drill: "Her eyes were just glued on the drill and when it came time for her turn, she went through it like she has been doing it a thousand times." Notice here that her excellence at that time was in both football and basketball. It later translated into soccer and eventually, baseball. Her "it factor" transcended sports type and it extended far beyond her gender.
But her catapult into the national spotlight began with someone who saw her play and gave her a chance.
You Need People. We hear it said often that "it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks." Of course it does. We're humans. We are genetically wired to CARE about other people – what they think, how they act, what they say. But it isn't just about YOU. It's about how you treat and interact with others around you. So pay attention. Look for opportunities to engage – to discover all that is noble in another. Someone did that for Mo'ne and look where it has taken her.
And what does Mo'ne have to say about it all? She told ESPN "I never thought at the age of 13 I'd be a role model. I always wanted to be a role model, but being a baseball role model is really cool." As she joins the ranks of other iconic sports legends that have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, I know we haven't seen the last of this athletic phenom. But perhaps more importantly, I'm hopeful she will carry the mentoring torch forward as she helps the athletes behind her to marshal their own inner Win Within to VICTORY. People helping people – that's what it's all about. Who will you give a helping hand to today?