A Champion Retires a Captain

Jeter 1

Okay, well he’s not retired yet, but Derek Jeter of the N.Y. Yankees did play in his final All Star game, his 14th to be exact on July 15, to go along with his five World Series titles (’96, ’98-’00, ’09), five Silver Slugger Awards (’06-’09, ’12), and five Gold Gloves (’04-’06, ’09-’10) just to name a few of his accolades.

Not to mention a uniform number that will be retired among other single-digit Yankee greats, making only double-digit numbers available for all future players in pinstripes.

Just before this year’s game, former teammate (now turned media jockey) Aaron Boone asked Jeter if he thinks of himself as “great.” As calmly as he dives for balls hit to his left, he simply answered “No,” and added that he just wants to be consistent so his employer knows what they’re getting every time. Boone continued: “What about ‘Derek Jeter, Captain?’” Jeter’s reply: “I’m just doing my job; setting an example, doing it the right way.”

So how has Jeter done it at an age (40) that is normally considered long past a baseball player’s prime? By following these steps:

  • Stick With What You Know: Not good in front of the camera? Have someone else do the interviews. Great at drafting a speech? Have at it.
  • Be Consistent: It’s okay if you don’t hit a home run every time at the plate; but always getting on base…or knowing how to craft the right message will do the trick.
  • Take Pride in What You Do: Presenting sloppy materials will not only reflect poorly on you, but you’ll quickly fall out of favor with your employer. Be accountable and take a sense of ownership in all that you do.
  • Respect the Process: You’re not going to capture the CEO’s voice right away; give it time, prove yourself, and trust will be given. Soon, you’ll write materials as if it really were him. After all, Jeter didn’t win all those titles in just one year.

Fact is, those that try to be great or anoint themselves early on, often fail to live up to those expectations. It’s not until they focus on being good, staying within themselves, and doing it over time, is what leads them to greatness. It may even give you standing ovations in opposing ballparks and a commercial campaign where even your bitter interleague and same-city rivals tip their cap to you in respect.

You want to be great? Focus on being consistently good. Greatness will come.

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