Business Success – The Ripken Way!
What business lessons can we learn from the “Iron Man” of Major League Baseball?
David Cox | April 16, 2019
I recently read about an interview that took place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Small Business Summit between the Chamber’s Senior Executive Vice President, Suzanne Clark, and former Major League Baseball (MLB) legend, author, and coach, Cal Ripken, Jr.
Ripken retired in 2001, following 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles as a shortstop and third baseman. During his phenomenal career, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in (RBIs). He was also a two-time Gold Glove Award winner for his fielding, a 19-time All-Star, and twice named the American League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
On September 6, 1995, Ripken played in his 2,131st consecutive game, surpassing the record of Lou Gehrig that had stood unchallenged for 56 years. Ripken ended his streak voluntarily in 1998 at 2,632 games and will forever be considered the MLB’s “Iron Man.”
In 2007, he was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, after receiving 98.53% of all eligible votes.
The Ripken Way
Since his retirement from Major League Baseball, Ripken has written 30 books, championed charitable causes, and purchased three minor league baseball franchises. His mistakes, lessons, and success from playing professional baseball inspired him to expand on the lessons he learned from his father, Cal Ripken, Sr. [Ripken Sr. spent 36 years with the Baltimore Orioles organization and was well-known for teaching minor league players how to “break-in” to the big leagues.]
Ripken created a youth baseball company out of teaching these lessons in what is now known as “The Ripken Way.” The organization’s vision is to “Elevate every player’s potential on the field – and in life.” The following are among those lessons.
Learn from failure
Ripken said, “Hitting in baseball, you fail seven out of ten times, even if you’re great. You’ve got to figure out how to deal with failure.” He asserts that “You make mistakes and the most important thing – just like in sports – is that you learn from those mistakes.” Ripken encourages entrepreneurs and young leaders to embrace failure because he believes “it’s where the magic happens” as we learn how to overcome setbacks.
Ripken encourages parents to think of ways to “reduce the pressure,” rather than add to it, which is a good lesson for anyone who manages people. Learning how to reduce the tension between employees will help them succeed.
Treat everyone fairly
Ripken worked with numerous managers in his 21-year career in the MLB. He described the importance of learning how to treat everyone fairly but not necessarily as an equal. How we treat others is worth our consideration because in business we’ll experience substantial differences among employees throughout an organization.
Look at yourself objectively
Ripken also said, “To compete against yourself, you need to make an honest evaluation of who you are, what you’re good at and where you’re deficient,” which is advice for entrepreneurs and anyone in the business world. Ripken reminds us that we’re often competing against ourselves in striving to reach our goals successfully. Understanding this allows us to play to our strengths, which is essential as a player, a business owner, or an entrepreneur.
Ripken uses “The Ripken Way” to provide a strong foundation for kids to learn that while it may be a simple game with a bat, a ball and a glove – what you do in the game, you do in life. As such, Cal Ripken, JR continues to coach for an unwavering commitment. It’s a commitment that calls us to be and do our very best.