Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jeter's Way: Life Lessons from #2, Derek Jeter

If you haven't seen the Gatorade ad that bids farewell to Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, stop reading now, and give it a go. It couldn't be more iconic. The black and white film, the filter, the backdrop of the New York City skyline as it meets the streets of the Bronx. Jeter appears as well—Jeter. He is accessible enough, he is adored by everyone, he offers a funny quip and emerges as a legend onto the field that creates them. And, it's set to Frank Sinatra's power ballad, "My Way." After reading Tom Verducci's tribute, "Exit Stage Center" in the recent, timely issue of Sports Illustrated, I believe it's worth reflecting on "Jeter's way."
I submit that Jeter's way is worth reflecting on in our own lives. They don't call him "Captain Clutch for nothing."

Leadership: "FORTUNE ranked him the 11th greatest leader in the world, 22 sports ahead of Apple CEO Tim Cook." 

Jeter said "One of the biggest things about is you have to get to know your teammates. You have to get to know who you're leading because there's different buttons you push with different people. Some guys you can yell and scream at, and some guys you have to put your arm around. You can do that only if you get to know them as people."

In light of Jeter's philosophy on leadership, how do you get to know those you are trying to lead? "Asking questions" and "spending time with someone" are obvious answers. But what are some practical things a good leader adds to the mix? 
Optimism vs. Negativity: "I always hear people say I give the same answers or I don't give you much. No, I just don't give you much negativity. When people are negative a lot, it starts to creep into your mind, and then you start having doubts, and I don't like that. If there's another way, show me. My job is to stay positive. My job is to limit distractions. And if you get annoyed by that, I don't expect you to understand because you're not in my shoes." 

How much negativity is in your life? Do you make an effort to stay positive? How do you limit distractions? 

The importance of mentoring & having fun: "Tim Raines, the one Yankee who could laugh off a slump or needle Paul O'Neill about being up a water cooler, became another influence" writes Verducci.

"I learned from him to have fun," Jeter says. "He had fun every day. That's a big part of being able to play all those years: to enjoy yourself."

Is there someone or something that makes your work fun every day? Seek them out. How or when do you enjoy yourself at work? Is that something you can be intentional about?
Presence: "A former teammate, Matt Ruoff, this month telling The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, CA 'You always wanted to sit by him. I know that sounds weird, But Derek gave off a presence."

Have you ever sought out the company of another because they give off a presence? Describe it. 
What type of presence might you give off?  What type of presence do you hope you give?

Purpose: "And our job—we're playing a game—but our job is to entertain and to bring joy to people, and I think people have appreciated it."

Why do you do what you do? It might not involve entertainment, but how might it be possible to bring joy to others through your work? What might people appreciate about what you do?

Can-do Attitude: Jeter's parents, Dot and Charles, "never permitted Derek to use the word can't around the house. Anything was possible with hard work. There is no doubting whence come his distaste for negativity."

Can you imagine the world without the word "can't?" (maybe your response is 'no, I can't....haha!) I hear it every day at cross country practice. Today I told any runner who used those words the story of Derek Jeter. I also pointed out the best runners seldom if ever complain. Their attitude is can-do, not can't. 

How can we help young people work hard and appreciate its value? How often do I say "I can't?" How can I change my point of view?
The Dream: "I always dreamed of playing in the major leagues. But everything that comes along with it couldn't have possibly been part of the dream. Because it's been much better."

It's been better "Mr. November, Number 2" because you made it better. Thanks for doing it your way.

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