There are many motivational speeches given at college graduation ceremonies this time of year. I recently read Theo Epstein’s Yale Graduation Speech that he gave at the commencement ceremony. For those of you who don’t know him he is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. (I know not everyone may be a Cubs fan, but please keep reading anyway!)
I had some key take-aways when I read the speech that I would like to share.
- If you want a different result, then you have to do things differently
- There were many norms to follow when it came to having young players on the team. These norms included how much they could really get involved initially, what they should wear and how they should behave. The organization decided to throw all of this out the window and it really allowed the players to be themselves. They could show their personalities, share ideas, have fun and in Theo’s words “If you think you look hot, wear it” philosophy on their dress code when they were off the field.
- Stand for each other’s success
- Although the Cubs were ahead with 4 outs to go in the game, an improbable series of events suddenly had the game tied. A major lightning storm hit at that moment which caused everyone to have to go inside until it was safe. When this occurred the team was brought together by Jason Heyward. He had not been having his best season, but he didn’t let that get him down. He talked about how they had leaned on each other all year and this would be no different. Other players talked about how they would make it happen and be there to support each other.
- Keep your head up
- “some players – and some of us – go through our careers with our heads down, focused on our craft and our tasks, keeping to ourselves, worrying about our numbers or our grades, pursuing the next objective goal, building our resumes, protecting our individual interests. Other players — and others amongst us — go through our careers with our heads up, as real parts of a team, alert and aware of others, embracing difference, employing empathy, genuinely connecting, putting collective interests ahead of our own. It is a choice.”
- Believe in the team
- The players had a choice to make they took the field. They could choose to think of all the reasons that they could lose or recognize that there was a great opportunity to win the game. They chose the latter option to believe in themselves and focus on this magical place that they were in when many people didn’t think it was possible. They never gave up. They did everything that they needed to and won the World Series after 108 year dry spell.
The players connected with each other and their fans connected with them. It brought so much joy to the City of Chicago, the loyal Cubs fans, the players and to the Cubs Organization. You couldn’t help but be happy for them and all that they had gone through to get there. What take-aways can you apply as a leader to bring your team together? Will you help them understand the importance of being themselves, empowering them and encouraging them to keep their heads up?