Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Night at The Joe - Leadership Lessons from Yogi Berra

I’ve been a sports fanatic all my life. I enjoy all sports with football and baseball topping the list. I’m spending a lot of time out at The Joe (the nickname of the stadium named for Charleston Mayor Joe Riley) watching our local team, the Charleston Riverdogs. The Riverdogs are a farm team of the New York Yankees. Granted, I’m not a Yankees fan, but I do like baseball, and our home team is fun to watch.

At a recent game while enjoying a hot dog, it came to me that there is a lot we can learn about business and leadership at a ball game if we’re paying attention. So, with a little help from that famous Yankee catcher and philosopher, Yogi Berra; I’d like to point out a few leadership ideas.

Lesson One from Berra, “If the fans don’t wanna come to the ballpark, no one can stop ‘em.” The fans show up for numerous reasons. They enjoy the game, like the team, are out for a good time with family and friends, etc.

What is the attraction for your place of business? What draws customers through your doors and to your web site? What brings them back? It’s not just the product you offer, but the experience. If the fan’s have a good time they’ll be back, if not, no one can make them come back.

Lesson Two from Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” One thing I’ve noticed this season as compared to last, the crowds appear to be a bit smaller. Sure, the season is young and the “dog days of summer” hold much promise. But for now, the future “ain’t what it used to be.”

For certain, the business climate has changed in light of the recession. Plans that we charted a year ago, have been redrawn. Budgets have been rewritten. The bottom line is guarded more closely. The future anticipated a year or two ago, isn’t the reality today. But, it’s what we have, and we adjust accordingly.

Lesson Three from Berra, “Baseball is 90 percent mental, the other half is physical.” The last game I attended, several errors were made. Routine plays went bust. That’s just the way the ball bounces some nights. You’ve heard the expression, “Get your head in the game.” The balance between having your head being in the game, as well as your glove, can be tricky.

Surviving these tough economic times is about possessing a tough mental attitude in addition to everything else. The tone and morale of the organization is crucial to your success. Sure, times are tough, but when everyone is working hard, just like at the ballpark, your team should also be having fun.

One final lesson from Berra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” Regardless if it’s a baseball game in the bottom of the ninth inning or it’s a buzzer beater miracle shot like the NBA’s LeBron James [see the shot here:] recently pulled off to win a playoff game, it’s not over ‘til it’s over. Never count the team out.

Whether it’s an organization goal or a personal goal that you have, the winning attitude is what will make your dream a reality despite what the scoreboard says. The only way you will win is to stay in the game. It’s not over ‘til it’s over. Don’t give up.

© 2009 Doug Dickerson

No comments:

Post a Comment