I have always had a deep connection to the 1989 baseball movie ,”Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones. In 1989, there were so many parallels to my life. As a 6-year-old, I was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan (I didn’t know any better), collected baseball cards, memorized their batting stances and played Little League games. Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) farm was set in the Iowa plains and I grew up near the Indiana cornfields. But most of all, my father passed away when I was seven months old and have spent most of my life wondering who he was and what a meeting between us would be like. Ray gets to play catch with his father’s younger self – a dream that won’t come true for me, but God, did I yearn for it to be me at the pitcher’s mound whenever I watched that scene.
25 years later, the movie is still crystal clear in my mind. And either subconsciously or through some divine intervention, the way I view business leadership and how to succeed in the theatrical nonprofit arena I’m usually involved in, boils down to three important actions:
IF YOU BUILD IT, HE WILL COME.
The inverse of this is maybe more crucial to business decisions: If you DON’T build it, he will NOT come. The simple act of starting is a hurdle many do not pass. If you want to make a difference in someone’s life, you must create something worthy of their time and resources. Now, of course, it isn’t enough to simply create something and then hope for the best. The “build” this magical whispered Voice is eerily mentioning is an active, pliable, perpetual state of building. Especially if you want “him” to come back, there must be a newness, a care, a signal “his” needs have been met.
EASE HIS PAIN.
The best way to make a decision in your business, whether it be with co-workers, employees or customers, is to identify their pains. And then take action to make those pains disappear. Treating people well and having a nice “customer service” voice is good, but people are eternally grateful to those who solve their problems. All great products have been invented from someone easing a pain. Don’t have time to cook? Ready-made meals. Too cold to go start your car? Remote engine starter. Don’t have time to go to the box office to pick up your tickets? Order online and we’ll scan your phone when you arrive. If you go through your day asking yourself, “How can I make someone’s job, task or transaction easier?” you will become irreplaceable and duly cherished.
GO THE DISTANCE.
Ray Kinsella: I’m 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball, and I’m about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.
Fear, setbacks, naysayers, personal problems, money issues…these vampires are always flying around us. But if anyone tells you they reached success by stopping midway, they are either crazy, lying or a vampire trying to trick you. Go farther than is necessary. Make that phone call. Handwrite that thank you note. Acknowledge contributions by employees publicly. Get to know your customers, your audience and your team. Help them succeed, help them build and ease their pain.
Do these things and instead of constantly chasing your dreams, you might just find that your dreams come to you. Now, don’t end up like Ray – go do something crazy. They will come.
Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones): Ray, people will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steam rollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.