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Start With “Why”

By Dawson Blanck, 06/05/24, 3:30PM CDT


Inspiring Action through Purpose

Last month, I reflected on joining the MYAS 24½ years ago, as well as the celebration of the 25th season of the Gopher State Baseball League and the 20th year of the Gopher State Baseball Tournament of Champions. This month, I want to spend some time talking about the present and future.

What I'm going to focus on may not be exciting or of interest to many, but that doesn't negate its importance. At the MYAS, we have spent a lot of time addressing the continued development of our organizational structure, taking a deep dive into the programs and services we offer and ensuring that we're allocating the proper amount of attention needed by each of them.

Based on our educational foundation and our mission, we cannot place too much emphasis on revenue or statistics, but rather on fulfilling the needs of the market and the organizations we serve.

This deep dive with our senior leadership on all our programs and services demands that we consider the positives, negatives, and other important factors.

Naturally, questions are raised:  Do we have the time and resources to make a positive impact? What level of impact are we having? Is “good” enough, or what would it take to make it great? Are we doing things properly on behalf of the sports we serve and the organizations with whom we partner? Do we have an accurate read on the pulse of youth sports in all corners of the state of Minnesota?

As a leader, I love reading different leadership books and listening to podcasts by significant leaders. One of my favorites is Simon Sinek. One of his classics that resonated with me was his TED Talk about the golden circle and the question, "Why?" The YouTube video of that talk has been viewed over 19 million times, and I'm certainly responsible for a good number of them. But his message about inspiring action through purpose instead of for profit really hits home, especially with us working in the nonprofit world.

We must consistently start with “why,” and it's something our team considers on a weekly basis by balancing what is needed with what is wanted.

We don't want to stand still or else we fall behind. We need to continue to push forward and not just rest on our laurels and expect that we're automatically going to attract people to participate in our programs. We are constantly connecting with people to get their thoughts and opinions.

Not surprisingly, COVID changed a lot within the youth sports landscape, and we have worked hard to make the right adjustments. I am grateful that we've survived and, in many ways, thrived as an organization, but it's compelled us to really reassess everything. It would be irresponsible for us to avoid the hard conversations and analyses and simply keep the status quo and run it again next year.

Throughout this process, we have also evaluated our personnel and their roles and responsibilities. We've discovered that some team members thriving in one sport could lend their expertise to another. This intel is often collected from our trusted partners, advisors, and supporters.

Most of all, though, I appreciate the buy-in of our team. They are excited about the opportunities to be able to be connected to more programs and streamline our processes for the benefit of all. When something is working in one program or service, we can see if it can work elsewhere, too.

We want to be successful together because it fulfills our mission and continues to help youth sports organizations throughout our state thrive.

Ultimately, all this work is done to provide the best possible experience for the youth sports participant, helping them create memories that last a lifetime and teaching them lessons that will aid them on their own journeys.