While recently visiting my son, we visited Truist Field in Charlotte to attend a baseball game between the Charlotte Knights and the Norfolk Tides. The Knights are the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and Norfolk of the Baltimore Orioles. I fully expected an excellent quality baseball game since Triple-A is the final level for players prior to entering the major leagues. What I received was a whole lot more!

By the end of the night, I was inspired to write this Cornerstone Moment regarding leadership, but also life goodness in general. It was all about the importance of appreciation in both leadership and personal growth. As I supply several examples of appreciation that I either felt or witnessed during our time at the ballpark and on the way home, think of like circumstances that you have experienced. They just may inspire you.

Think for a moment about events you have attended, places you have visited, and businesses you have patronized during the past couple of years. Was your experience positive? I suspect you will recall the plusses and minuses rather quickly. And perhaps, the positive perspectives you encountered will splash into your mind like taking that plunge into a cool pool, lake, or river on a sizzling summer day, and the negatives will ring your ears like a hard slap in the face. And recall when you responded, whether positive or negative, how others responded. Often, our reactions influence the reactions of others.

The night at the game was “one of those nights”. The experience was outstanding. Was it pure luck, just encountering kind and fun people, or did it have something to do with my mental state and how I approached the evening? In case you haven’t yet answered that question, think of this – your facial expression, eye contact, and body posture often speak quite clearly to those around you. The message you convey may impact how others perceive and communicate with you.

I had a series of inspiring encounters that I will rattle off to build my case for “appreciation”. We parked our car, and I went to pay in the machine located at the entrance. When I arrived, I experienced a first. There was a woman who couldn’t remove her credit card from the meter because her fingernails were too long. I removed her credit card and we both had a fun laugh because of it. It was warm and congenial. A good start to the night!

Entering the gate to the ballpark, the man next in line was having difficulty locating his ticket. He immediately stepped aside versus making us wait while finding his ticket. Nice guy! And then the ticket taker was really nice. And barely getting inside I was motioned over to the counter by the lady selling beverages. She had a friendly smile, a great demeanor, and was truly kind. I already had 4 impactful encounters and was barely inside the gate. Shortly following that… about 70 yards to provide an estimate, the hotdog guys substituted an ingredient that they were short on with horseradish for me. Man, I felt like tonight was definitely my night!

As soon as we settled into our 3rd base side, 10th row from the field seats, I examined the beautiful skyline of downtown Charlotte and marveled at the architecture and the fact that these amazing buildings existed side by side in a relatively small area. I suppose I have been avoiding big cities for too long. That said, it was an enjoyable sight to see.

There was laughter and fun happening all around us. It was a nice break from the turmoil occurring around the world. Our row mates were friendly, gracious, and courteous and I felt right at home in a place I had never been before.

Add to the comfortable setting some delightful baseball and it made for a great night at the ole ballyard! We witnessed 98 mph fastballs, a 4 for 4 with a 2-walk night for the Knights 3rd baseman, Burger. Bigtime stuff! There were also several excellent defensive plays to counter some capable offense. And let me not forget a little personality, as baseball often has. The Knights’ third base coach was very intense and entertaining to watch. And oh, by the way, he did a distinguished job of coaching the runners. Finally, one of my baseball heroes and Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken Jr. had a son (Ryan) in the game for the Norfolk team. That was a treat in itself as it brought back fond memories and opened the door for some conversation between the kids and me.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – CICERO

I walked away from the game very thankful to my son and daughter-in-law for taking me. It was a wonderful birthday gift! On the way home, I told them how much I appreciated it. I am sure that brought them joy, inspiration, and motivation to pass it on. No matter our personal or professional role, status, or position, that is a valuable lesson to learn.