This blog entry was started yesterday afternoon when I had convinced myself that Joe Torre would be fired this morning as manager of the Yankees after a sweep by the New York Mets. Well, Torre lives on another day (thanks to a gutsy performance by a 22-year-old making his major league debut) – but is clearly hanging by a thread.
That leads us to an important question everyone will one day have to ask themselves – "When should I "hang it up?"
It’s usually evident in sports with athletes hanging around longer then they should – driven only by their innate competitive edge. Bowing out gracefully is easier said then done. Instead, many cash in and water down there careers as their bodies let them down – in turn, letting down fans. Their career stats spiral downward as production often tapers down to a crawl.
So, aside from "knowing when to fold ’em," let’s take a look at some lessons your career could learn from the New York Yankees and baseball in general.
– Know when to fold ’em. You’re scared that someone will step in and do it as well as you did – maybe even better. Whatever. The opinion of your peers, while key in certain industries, always should play second fiddle to what YOU believe. Would a new hotshot manager overshadow the Torre reign? It’s possible but highly unlikely. Heck, Torre did it to Showalter before him. The cycle has to continue.
– Think historically. Ok, so maybe no one is writing about your illustrious career in the annals of history. And you’re not going to go down in the Cube Hall of Fame, BUT everything you do throughout your career – especially near the end of your stay with an organization – will be remembered. You could be perfect for six years. If you put in your two weeks notice and call out sick for six days – you’ll just be doing yourself a disservice.
– Left behind by evolution. All good managers should constantly be evaluating their respective marketplace. Holding on to several top producers, even if they were once the cornerstone of your operation, might be a moot point. Aside from chemistry changing, the world is always turning and you can easily be left behind. No one is saying you trade the Derek Jeter of your staff but don’t waste your time going back to the well to recreate what once was.
– Bad streaks are universal. Whether it’s your career, your company, or your industry, life is destined to be a series ups and downs. As Joe Torre recently said, when you’re down you shouldn’t be asking ‘why me’ – it’s the times that everything is going right that you should be asking that question. As painful and cliche as it sounds – you’ll learn more from staring up then by looking down.
– Avoid cliques. The Yankees championship teams were selfless. Players would be willing to put aside their egos in order to better the team. I can’t say the same for today’s team. Jeter and Posada at one end of the bench. Cano and Abreu on the other. A-Rod all by his lonesome. We must remember that in our own careers we are all free agents. Do not attach yourself to closely with any group of people. In doing so, you will not only alienate certain people, but the entire team will suffer. Rise and fall on your own merits – but be smart enough to be nice to everyone.
– Your boss changes. And I’m not talking about a NEW boss – but the ever-changing life of your current boss. George Steinbrenner, the once piss and vinegar owner of the New York Yankees has been reduced to fragile old man. Some say he’s so far out of the loop that he doesn’t even know what’s going on with the team. Regardless, the Yanks’ brass have possibly pulled a page out of the "Wizard of Oz" by keeping us guessing about the madman behind the curtain. Your boss, could mellow with age – or perhaps grow cranky and irritable. Be patient and ride the waves. Impulsiveness will only leave you with a multi-page resume.
– Pinstripe Pride. For years this meant short hair, no beards, tats out of sight, suits on travel days and as boring as it sounds, always saying the right thing. This is what separates true Yankees from imposters. Sure, many will wear the uniform – but only a few bleed pinstripe blood. These are reminders that you should always represent your organization in the best light possible. By doing so, you are representing yourself in the best light possible. Be widely accessible and you’ll give yourself more opportunities to further your career.
– Accountability. Members of the Yanks, or any other professional athlete for that matter, never blame outside elements. There’s a concerted effort not to point fingers.
– Stick to the fundamentals. In baseball they call it "small ball" when you can execute the little things. A sacrifice bunt can catapult a five-run inning. An elementary base running blunder can extinguish a would-be rally. Do the little things well and the rest often falls into place.
The list can go on and on. I’m not looking to make this a "Yankees are superior" type blog entry – so you haters can save your breath. However, I’d love for you to add your own baseball "advice" and how the world on the diamond can teach us lessons for our everyday careers. Hit a home run and leave a comment below! Play ball!