Can Do Attitude

Posted: November 3, 2013 by Chuck Matthews in Culture, Leadership, People

UC Chuck MatthewsYou have to hit the fastball to play in the big leagues.

   — Ted Williams

With the 2013 World Series just wrapping up, the Boston Red Sox showed they know a thing or two about playing in the big leagues.  The “Beards of Beantown” as they have become known this October, took center stage in the Fall Classic against the St. Louis Cardinals. Their hirsute antics aside, they worked hard to handle the fast balls, curves, and change-ups.  No matter what the outcome of the World Series, there is a timeless essence about baseball that speaks to us about dealing with what life has to throw at us.

Red Sox legend Ted Williams’ life and career evokes a can do attitude that speaks to entrepreneurs about the pursuit of success.

Meet Change Head On.  Ted Williams was an inspiration on and off the field. Twice a winner of baseball’s coveted American League Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, and runs batted in) 1942 and 1947, one of only two players to ever do so, he had to cope with a challenging and changing world. Twice the conflict of war would intervene in his life and career.  He served in the Marine Corps as a Naval Aviator at the end of WWII and again in the Korean War.  Interestingly, in the only World Series in which he played in 1946, the Boston Red Sox met the St. Louis Cardinals. Even the series itself had changed. It marked the return of the series to the two-three-two format still in use today.  Be prepared for changes in both your life and your profession. Ted Williams liked to say, “Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders.”

Rise Above Adversity. While change is inevitable, it is often how we deal with adversity that defines our future success. While his career was twice interrupted by service to his country, Ted Williams broke his elbow in the 1950 All-Star Game and had seven bone fragments removed.  Later, during the Korean War, after a mission, he would crash land his jet. Drive, determination, and dedication would propel him to the two Triple Crowns, 19 All-Star appearances, two American League MVP awards, six batting championships, 521 career home runs and a lifetime batting average of .344.  His managing career was less than stellar (he often makes the top 10 list of all time worst managers), but that didn’t stop him from serving as a goodwill ambassador for the Red Sox and baseball.

Never Give Up.  When change and adversity gang up on you, it is very tempting to throw in the towel.  Entrepreneurs rarely do that.  While not a baseball player, Amandeo Giannini faced a changing world at the turn of the 20th Century as he struggled to get his business off the ground in 1904.  Born to Italian immigrants in San Jose, California, he had to drop out of school to help support his family, only to see his father killed in a fight right before his eyes.  He would go on to build the family business and successfully exit it by selling his shares to his employees.  Recognizing that small business owners had a hard time getting start-up capital, he founded the Bank of Italy in a converted saloon with a former bartender as his first teller.  By the time he retired in 1945, his bank boasted over 490 branches in California with over $5 billion in assets. Today you know it as the Bank of America.

Entrepreneurs challenge change, deal with adversity, and never give up. What are you waiting for?  You CAN do it.  Till next time, all the best for continued entrepreneurial success!

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