I would like to be remembered as a player who was there for others –Mariano Rivera
In announcing his forthcoming retirement from Major League Baseball at the conclusion of the 2013 season, Mariano Rivera will certainly be bound for Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. By the numbers Rivera has no equal. His stats speak volumes as to his skill as a dominant relief pitcher. Rivera enters the 2013 season with a career ERA of 2.21, 1,119 saves and 608 strikeouts.
In recognition of his stellar career it is worth noting the leadership lessons that can be drawn from his career and how these principles transcend the game of baseball. These are life lesson every leader can learn from and apply. John Wooden once said, “Success comes from knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” Certainly Rivera did that and you can too. Here are three take-away leadership lessons from the career of Mariano Rivera and why they matter.
How to enjoy every season. Rivera entered the Major Leagues in 1995. After 19 seasons it will be over and he will enter a new chapter and phase in his life. Every leader goes through seasons. And just as Rivera enjoyed seasons where he finished on top with World Championships, there were also lean years for the team.
The leadership lesson to learn here is that each season is to be embraced with enthusiasm, passion, and a desire to win. Your leadership will be called upon and tested. You will face obstacles and challenges. You will experience the thrill of victory and taste the disappointment of defeat.
The important thing to remember is to enjoy the journey regardless of the outcome. The mark of your leadership is found in the discovery of making the most of every season and opportunity that comes your way.
How to be a team player. Rare in professional sports today, Rivera’s entire career was played in the famous pin stripe uniform of the New York Yankees. It was only fitting that all of his teammates were in attendance at his retirement announcement.
The leadership lesson to learn here is that of being a team player. In his retirement announcement interview Rivera was asked about being labeled the greatest of all time. Rivera responded by saying, “First of all, I don’t feel I’m the greatest of all-time. The reason I say that is because I’m a team player. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I would never had the opportunities.” This summarizes both the power and importance of teamwork.
The mark of your leadership is found not so much in what you can achieve individually as rewarding as that can be, but in how you can be a part of something greater than yourself.
How to leave with your head held high. Rivera will leave at the end of the season celebrated as the game’s greatest closer. When asked how it feels to exit the game he said, “There’s nothing to be sad of. I did everything within my power to enjoy the game, to do it well, to respect baseball. I have so much joy about that. So to me, there’s no sadness. I would say joy.”
Rivera’s legacy as a baseball player is secure. It is Hall of Fame material. What about your legacy? As a leader it is being created by the work you do, the decisions you make, the service you render, the obstacles you overcome, the lessons you learn, and your desire to leave your mark on the world.
Your calling is not to be a Rivera, but to be the best version of yourself as the leader that you were created to be with passion and purpose. With a touch of class, Rivera simply showed us the joy of doing it.
© 2013 Doug Dickerson