Life & Work Management Achieving Peak Performance the Cal Ripken Way
By Neil Fiore, PhD
Cal Ripken, the guest speaker at a Financial Advisor Conference, said that, for years, players and the press would ask him:
"What's your secret for playing 162 games a year for over 17 years without missing a game?"
Initially Cal would tell them, "There's no secret. I just practice in the batting cage and show up." Then he thought about it and wrote down eight essential qualities that became his book, Get in the Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance.
These qualities can be applied to Work-Life Balance and could be called The Eight Keys to Achieving Peak Performance.
A 19-time All-Star, Cal was a 2007 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
On September 6, 1995 he broke Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record with 2,131st consecutive game—consistently showing up through injuries, pain, and the heart-breaking losing seasons with the Orioles for a career total of 2,632 straight games.
If you want to consistently persevere and sustain success as an Outperformer, consider the following summary of Cal's excellent presentation.
Cal, the "Iron Man," Ripken gave us his own, original 8 Elements of Perseverance that differ slightly from those in his book, Get in the Game.They are:
- The Right Approach: Right Attitude & Mission Statement
- A Strong Will: To Succeed
- Passion: Love What You Do
- Love to Compete: Internal, with yourself and External, with others
- Consistency: Perform everyday; Solve Problems
- Conviction: Stand up for what you believe; keep it Honest & Simple
- Strength: Physical and Mental for Sustained Success
- Life Management: Balancing Professional and Personal/Family Life
Here are some highlights that could trigger reminders of how to keep your skills sharp as you apply the strategies from my program, Productivity Engineering.
Cal Ripken gave several examples of being proactive—e.g., asking managers about his Spring Training schedule and then offering them his own, preferred schedule while other players passively waited each day to be told where they would be practicing and what they'd be doing.
He volunteered to offer help to a new pitcher and was so successful in figuring out the batters that even the catcher would check with him. He is a "student of the game" and was generous in sharing with his teammates what he observed and learned.
He prepared and practiced in the batting cage and at the gym so when he was under pressure to perform, he could relax and just do what he had practiced.
I asked Cal what he said to himself and how he maintained Mental Toughness when he was suffering through another losing Oriole season—similar to coping with discouraging financial and housing markets and cautious clients.
Cal answered by offering the example of the pressure he felt in 1993 when he showed up for his 2,000th game and all eyes were on him. He acknowledged the pressure, but rather than fight it or push against it like so many tend to do, Cal said he stepped back from the plate, took a breath, and told himself to continue to do what he had always practiced. Then he simply focused on the ball just as he had done thousands of times before in the batting cage.
Like champions in all fields of endeavor, Cal released any worry about the expectations of the fans, the criticism of the press, and anything else he couldn't control. Then he brought his mind into what he could do now, in the present, and hit a home run.
Because of his versatility and his willingness to step up to the plate when needed, Cal Ripken made himself so indispensable that managers wanted him in the line-up for every game.
When Cal asked manager Frank Robinson why he was chosen for every game, Robinson told him: "I can replace your bat. I can replace your glove. But I can't replace what you contribute to the team. I can't replace the whole package you bring to this team."
Cal, consistently communicated and demonstrated his value. Your clients and customers might find lower fees elsewhere but you want them to know that you deliver value and client-focused services that are part of a whole package that can't be replaced.
Cal Ripken concluded his presentation with his favorite, sustaining quote. One from President Theodore Roosevelt that you, like Cal Ripken, might benefit from keeping handy:
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Dr. Neil Fiore is a psychologist, author, and keynote speaker who served as a Lieutenant with the 101st Airborne. He was also a manager for Johnson & Johnson, an Economic Analyst for Shell Oil, a psychologist at UC Berkeley's Counseling Center, and has presented seminars at major corporations, associates, and universities. Neil is the author of six books and CDs as well as articles in The New England Journal of Medicine; Coping; San Francisco Chronicle; Working Woman, and Boardroom Reports.
Dr. Fiore has been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The London Times and is a recipient of the University of California's Award for Distinguished Achievement. Boardroom Reports named him one of their Top 10 Self Help Gurus.