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Career lessons from baseball

There are life skills and work skills that can be learned from America’s favorite pastime. Many of us are spending hours at the baseball fields around, including Little League, High School and other leagues supporting youngsters playing the game. What can these kids learn about life that will stay with them and  affect their work lives and personal lives? There are lessons to be learned for all of us that can be used in business every day.  Some of them are listed below.

1. Working as a team.  The meshing of strengths from all “players”  on your team will result in an overall superior end product. Working as a team is reflected in relationships, marriages, sports, and particularly in business and life after sports. Leveraging talents and abilities of all team members will accomplish more goals and be beneficially more rewarding than having a group of individually minded players.

2. Having a strong work ethic. Work ethic is the foundation for anything in life. A strong work ethic comes from a deep down desire and drive to improve and work hard. It results in tremendous rewards and fulfillment.

3. Dealing with pressure. The decisions we make under pressure define who we are, what we are made of, both personally and professionally. We learn how to manage our emotions and focus on the immediate tasks at hand.

4. Working with all kinds of people.  You need to learn to deal with new people, those older and younger, those with more experience and less experience, those different from you.  It is important to develop a skill set to become comfortable and bring people out and include them.

5. Dealing with failure. Mistakes are inevitable. You can make positives out of shortcomings and problems. Let go of unnecessary worry, fear and self-judgement.Learning from mistakes and failures can be used to make improvements and assist you in the future. The famous player, Babe Ruth, held the home run record for many years. He also stuck out many times but he didn’t let that deter him and he kept swinging hard.

6. Dealing with success. It is important to strive for success, focus on winning but being a gracious winner is something to be learned. Winning with grace and humility is an admirable trait to be developed.

7. Keeping your cool. Block out emotions from criticism and don’t respond hastily. It is critical to learn the skill of how to perform in crunch situations and not over-react.

8. Learning how to keep on going when tired or discouraged. It is easy to give up when you are tired or down. Pushing forward  and continuing to give all you have shows your character. Keeping on keeping on will show what you are made of.

9. Show appreciation and gratitude. Coaches, fields, uniforms, equipment, umpires, parents and friends should not be taken for granted. Having a work environment that is safe and open, working with nice people, being a part of a reputable company, having opportunities to succeed and advance, receiving competitive pay, etc., all benefit you and your family. These are not provided without planning, cost and sacrifices by someone.

10. Don’t assume everyone knows how to play. Remember they are little kids when you observe them being more interested in an airplane flying overhead while they are in the outfield. They can’t learn the basics without input from a coach. So it is on the job. Training and development are key components for learning the business.

We are often confronted with situations that tempt us to give up but perseverance and tenacity can keep us going in spite of the odds. A quote from Yogi Berra, the quirky Hall of Fame baseball catcher with the New York Yankees, has become famous. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” This is a true saying for individuals, teams, companies, organizations, etc. It is applicable to baseball, work life, relationships and your personal life. A “can do” attitude will carry you through life and will have a positive impact on everything you do.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as Executive Vice President and Human Resources Director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.