I, like millions of Americans, watched Derek Jeter’s last at bat at Yankee Stadium. It will go down as one of baseball’s greatest moments, and certainly a fitting way for Derek to end his career at his home stadium. As I was watched the fans provide him with an appropriate sendoff, I couldn’t help but think of how this experience transcended sports and was really a metaphor on what we should strive to do in our careers.
Stay Focused on Only the Most Important Things
What amazes me about Derek is his ability to compartmentalize. He knew, as did everyone in attendance and everyone who was watching or listening, that this would be his last at bat in Yankee Stadium – FOREVER. A historical moment. One, where similar to other events of such magnitude, you will remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. However, here is Jeter knowing that he needed a hit to score Jose Pirela. Everything else was insignificant. Not the moment, not the history, not the occasion. He was solely focused on what truly mattered: winning. We need to start caring about what matters and forget about everything else.
Seize the Opportunity
One can argue that Jeter was given more than his fair share when talent and looks were being divided among us. But the truth is that he has always made the most out of every opportunity provided to him. It was not a surprise to me that when he had the chance to win the game, he did. He has always relished in opportunistic situations. There are opportunities in front of us every day. We just need to have Jeter-like vision to capitalize on them.
After he was done hugging his current and former teammates, Jeter took a walk to shortstop and did what is normally his pre-game ritual for the very last time. He did not do this for the cameras. He did it because he understood that he was in a unique situation, one in which millions of people would love to be. He is the most beloved, popular, and respected athlete of our generation. But it was clear that he considers himself a very lucky man. Make sure you take some time to be appreciative about what you have, and not focused on what you don’t have. (More on this in my next post.)
In his final home plate appearance, he hit a walk-off single. Yet, when most people would be talking about how great they are, Derek congratulates the Baltimore Orioles and thanks the fans for their support. Then, when discussing the fans chanting “Thank You Derek”, he says he doesn’t understand why they are thanking him since he was just doing his job. Humbleness at its finest.
Always Think of Your Kids
The only person in Yankee Stadium who was not impressed was Derek’s nephew, Jalen. To Jalen, Derek Jeter is Uncle Derek, not Derek Jeter the baseball player. So, while he is being interviewed, Derek made sure to pick up his nephew who was running towards him. He knew that Jalen probably wouldn’t understand if he told him to wait. This was a key moment for me, and a great reminder that no matter what happens at work, to my kids I am just “Dad”.
Congratulations on your retirement, Derek Jeter. I learned a lot, and will miss watching you play.