For my entire adult life, Derek Jeter has been the starting shortstop for my beloved New York Yankees. From the time he arrived in New York, he led by example. Not only was he an example for his teammates, but for many fans as well.
I was lucky enough to attend a luncheon this week where Jeter answered questions from Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports. Aside from the obvious (play hard, etc.), here are some of the lessons that can (and should) be learned from one of my all-time favorites:
- Don’t say anything: Playing for the marquee franchise in the biggest media market in the world, Jeter has had a microphone and a camera pointed at him at all times. He always seems to say the right thing and, almost as impressive, he has never said the wrong thing. This is partially because he never says anything that’s not well thought out and if you really dig in to many of his quotes, he doesn’t say anything at all.
- Show respect: He still calls Joe Torre “Mr. T.” and has the ultimate respect for the Yankee legends that came before him..
- Confidence, even during tough times: During the luncheon, Jeter said that he is more confident when he’s in a slump, because he knows the law of averages are on his side. If he’s 0-24, he knows the odds are that he will get a hit and while he admits that he might be tricking himself, he’s got a point.
- Focus and prepare for the task at hand: When Steiner asked him if he thought they could win the last seven games and sneak in to the playoffs, Jeter said that he was only concerned about winning tonight. Even during follow up questions, he remained laser focused on that night’s game and nothing else.
- Find the right team: When asked about team chemistry, he said that good chemistry is having enough people who care about winning and having enough people that losing affects. Being aligned with your team is crucial in any field.
- Be gracious in both winning and defeat: With five World Series rings, Jeter has certainly had his share of winning, but the Yankees have also suffered defeat, some of it crushing. One of the reason why his opponents respect and admire him is because of the way he acts in both cases.
So, as baseball says goodbye, I say thank you. Thank you for showing us how to play hard, win with style and grace, lose with dignity, and above all, carry yourself like a true gentleman.