I write this blog in the spirit of the entertaining theme of my book, Welcome to the Big Leagues: Nine Innings of Essential Tips for the Corporate Rookie, with the aim of pointing out how the advice and practices of an all-star baseball player can benefit you.
Since this blog is free, I will refrain from giving away any of the essential tips discussed in my book. After all, Jeter never said to the Steinbrenner's "hold onto your cash guys, I'm here for the love of the game only". What Jeter did do is perform as an all-star, to the very best of his ability, and in return he was rewarded substantially for doing so. Hopefully, the same will happen for you and me.
For those who are unfamiliar with Derek Jeter, here are a few quick highlights: As a kid, Derek dreamed of being a shortstop for the New York Yankees, a team that plays with only one. In 1992, his dream became reality when the Yankees drafted him out of high school for the position. Twenty years later, he is still playing shortstop and currently in his final season. Jeter is a five-time world series champion and a 14-time all-star. He holds the Yankee records for hits, bases stolen, at bats and games played. Derek is highly respected by all teammates and regarded as a great leader with a strong work ethic and integrity. I consider him to be a class-act and a terrific role model for those juniors with aspirations of playing in the big leagues or becoming an adult of noble character.
As is the case with most champions, at the heart and very core of their being is true greatness. This permeates outside of their job performance and shines in everything they say and do. For this reason, we will examine some of the comments made by Derek Jeter to see how his message can help you.
1. "Your image isn't your character. Character is what you are as a person." -Jeter
Jeter knows that no matter who he is on the inside, he must also contend with the media's portrayal of his image. Since you are probably not a celebrity, it's unlikely that the media will exploit anything and everything about you to create a buzz. The road to success starts with knowing your core values and who you are as a person. Only then, will your decisions in life guide you in a purposeful way. In the corporate world, you should work very hard to see that your image reflects the best of you.
2. "There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do." -Jeter
The only way to excel at anything is through hard work. However, motivation is an internal engine. If you do not have the drive, patience and commitment to pursue greatness, it will not find you. Remember that in the business world, there is no such thing as a natural.
3. "I'm not perfect; no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I think you try to learn from those mistakes." -Jeter
We must always learn from our mistakes. Making errors in the business world and in life can come at a great price. Both environments are very unforgiving and we only have so many chances to get it right. Try to avoid the 0-2 count by learning from the mistakes of others. Any missteps that you can avoid taking yourself will prevent setbacks.
As a corporate rookie, there will always be people doubting you. Success does not come in an instant. Bust your hump to remove all uncertainty. Integrity is built and strengthens over time. Win over the naysayers by continuously delivering. Only then will you receive the opportunities that you may think you deserve. Your success is the greatest revenge.
5. "You can't be sensitive, because you're going to get criticized. I don't care who you are, you're going to get criticized. I always take criticism as a challenge." -Jeter
Remember that feedback is a gift. You must be able to handle constructive criticism. In the business world, there are no trophies for participation. Don't expect any forms of critique to have a sweet sugar coating. This is the real world where people compete hard to be number one. Thicken your skin and graciously accept all of the feedback that comes in, it will help you. Understand that the negative comments are more valuable to your long-term success than the positive ones.
6. "When I was younger, I was always taught not to make excuses." -Jeter
People who cannot handle criticism or failure make excuses. End of story! I'd rather have the employee who made three fairly notable mistakes and accepted accountability, as opposed to the employee who made only one and pointed the finger. I have a problem with those employees who continually blame others or neighboring departments for all that is wrong. My motto is that if you are not working to resolve a problem, you are part of it.
7. "I think when things linger, that's when they become a distraction. I don't want any distractions." -Jeter
This statement is very true in the business world as well. Do not procrastinate in anything you do. No matter if it's a difficult conversation, facing a fear or dealing with a problem, the longer you put it off the more difficult it will be to accomplish. It is also good practice to put an end to any of the negativity that surrounds you. If a colleague is spreading rumors or bad mouthing another employee, it is likely that the nonprofessional chatter will distract others. Stay focused on your job and let all gossipers know that you have something better to do with your time.
8. "Surround yourself with good people. People who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests." -Jeter
The goal of any great leader is to surround himself with talented people. This is not always easy to do and developing loyalty is even more challenging. In a place where people have their own agendas and politics runs rampant, don't be shocked to see one colleague throw another under the bus. People compete for the spotlight and sometimes cross ethical boundaries to get it. Hold yourself to the highest standard in all situations, no matter what everybody else does. Surround yourself by those who can help to grow your skills and career. Hope for the best among peers but be prepared for the worst. "I wish I trusted people more. But when I meet someone, the first thing I think is, 'What does this person want?' And I put up a defense mechanism." Derek keeps his guard up for good reason.
9. "I get nervous watching teammates. I get nervous for them. Late in the game, pressure situation, I'm nervous for them." -Jeter
The more you can empathize with your colleagues the stronger your relationships will be. Remember that everyone is fighting their own battle. What some consider to be easy others find extremely difficult. Be supportive and provide encouragement whenever possible. Embrace all of the dynamics of being on the team and remind others to do the same.
10. "I looked up to my parents because they were very successful in what they wanted to do. I was lucky; I didn't have to look far for role models." -Jeter
Your parents or relatives can be great role models in life. However, in the business world, I strongly recommend finding a mentor. A seasoned veteran who enjoys giving back will provide the much needed guidance you'll need to succeed. Jeter's parents helped to form his values and character, but it was the talents of Dave Winfield that inspired him to become an all-star ballplayer.
11. "If you're going to win games, you're going to have to come up with the big hits. That's the bottom line." -Jeter
If you are going to win in the business world, you must drive results. That is the bottom line. In an environment where the bar is always being raised, the all-stars accomplish more by pursuing continuous improvement and challenging the status quo.
12. "When you put a lot of hard work into one goal and you achieve it, that's a really good feeling." -Jeter
Take pride in your accomplishments. You were hired to get things done and it should feel rewarding to do so. No matter how small, each completed project and task counts as a hit, and the more hits the higher your batting average will be. Contrary to the belief, thriving careers are not full of high times, promotions and raises, there are long stretches in between. Enjoy the daily job at hand and the fact that you are getting through each game with a respectable batting average. Relish the home run when it comes.
13. "You don't just accidentally show up in the World Series." -Jeter
Achieving greatness takes a ton of discipline and hard work. There are no easy roads or shortcuts and luck only takes a person so far. Most of what you accomplish in your career will be done as a team. Develop the communication, management and many other skills necessary to see that your team plays like world-series champions.
Business is definitely not fun and games, but it does come easier when you love what you do. Remember to lighten up once in awhile and encourage colleagues to do the same. Little things like going to lunch or happy hour can help to build camaraderie with colleagues and reduce stress. Also, setting one lunch break aside each week for a shared learning activity is a great way to make skill and team building more enjoyable.
15. "I've found that it's easier to stay in shape than it is to get into shape." -Jeter
Never let yourself slip out of mental shape. If you are a rookie in the corporate world, it's likely that you are fresh out of college. Utilize your well-developed studying and reading habits to your advantage. Challenge your current skills, learn new ones, join networks, stay current on company announcements and industry trends. The fate of your career depends on your ability to learn and grow. Remember that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Stay sharp and current on your development plan.
16. "You forget about it whether it was 15-2 or 3-2. It's still a loss. It doesn't matter what the score was if we win tomorrow." -Jeter
You will have bad days in your career. Do not dwell in pessimism. Put the poor experiences to rest and learn from them. Focus on being victorious the next time. Careers are very long and challenging. Your positive outlook and resiliency matters.
17. "The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder." -Jeter
Live without regret. You should always prepare to perform your best. Life is too short and precious to just go through the motions. Live with meaning and purpose by doing things right and delivering your best each day. A golden opportunity may come when you least expect it, so be prepared.
18. "You can't quantify everything a player does to win games." -Jeter
When you fully commit yourself to achieving any goal in life, it takes something of great force to stop you. It is those who continuously go above and beyond what is expected who overcome significant challenges and ultimately win. There are no quantifiable ways to measure the heart of a champion.
19. "Obviously, you're known for what you do. But you still want to be known as a good person. You're a person a lot longer before and after you're a professional athlete." -Jeter
There is no doubt that Derek embraced this thought all through his 20-year career in MLB. You may one day encounter an ethical boundary of your own, where the road you take can change the course of your life forever. Just understand that once your reputation is tainted, it's almost impossible to restore. As a good practice, always think of the worst that could happen before the good.
20. "I'd like to get a degree. You ever see the movie 'Back to School?' I'll go back with my kids." -Jeter
We'll end on this good-spirited quote. Not only was Back to School a funny movie, but Jeter's statement embodies many of the rare qualities that make him so great. Despite all of the money, Yankee records and fame, he never forgot that he put off furthering his education. His father is a PhD and I'm sure this fueled his appreciation for the importance of continued education. Great people always looks to better themselves. They are not afraid to be criticized or look foolish and will have fun embracing all new endeavors. Never stay complacent in life. Always look to improve yourself and help others to do the same. Learning as little as one new vocabulary word each day will have a profound effect on your life.
There is no doubt that Derek Jeter will be revered as an all-time baseball great. However, his broken records on the field are of no comparison to his broken molds as a quality human being and role model.
As a kid, Jeter's parents made him sign a contract every year that set acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior. Derek not only fulfilled the obligations of his contract, he exceeded them. The hopeful and ambitious youth worked relentlessly to play by all of the rules, defy all of the odds, and live his incredible dream. When the road got tough, Jeter got tougher. Derek embraced his core values and never compromised his integrity. Despite the many riches and fame, Jeter stayed focused and grounded ... sleeping soundly in a city that's known to be otherwise. Derek Jeter never talked the talk, he walked the walk each and every day of his adult life and 20-year career. It should be of no surprise that Derek is also regarded as a great humanitarian. In 2009, he was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award for the efforts his Turn 2 Foundation made to help children and give back to the community. Jeter's accolades do not stop there, he has enough to prove that heroism is a way of life.
Derek Jeter set a high performance bar for himself both on and off the field. His strong work ethic and character not only contributed to the success of the Yankees' franchise, it also made him one of the most marketed athletes of his generation.
Let this blog post remind you that Derek Jeter's success was no accident. If you want to become an all-star, start by learning from one. Never give up! It is often the hardest road traveled that leads to the greatest reward. Welcome to the Big Leagues may have been written to provide corporate rookies with the insights needed to thrive in the game, but it is always up to you to make good decisions and apply what you learn. Hopefully these tips chart the course for you to become the Derek Jeter of your career.
— Carmine Del Sordi (@BigLeaguesBook) July 20, 2014
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