Derek Jeter Teaches You To Be A Success In Any Career

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Derek Jeter standing on the field at Yankee Stadium wearing New York Yankees jersey #2 with back to camera

Derek Jeter is a megastar.

He’s ultra rich.

He’s married to a supermodel.

He’s a part-owner of the Miami Marlins.

I can go on and on listing all of his achievements.

So what the hell does he have in common with the rest of us!?

Quite a bit actually.

This is a once in a generation athlete.

One who transcends the sport he plays, and sports in general like no other.

The things he does on the baseball diamond.

The things he does off the field.

Particularly the things he doesn’t do make him a leader.

But he also represents the majority of us.

He doesn’t possess the most talent or the highest level of any singular skill.

He’s a man who worked his ass off to get where he is; doing a job well and maintaining that level of success in his chosen field.

Anyone looking to become more successful in any profession can learn a few things from Derek Jeter and would be wise to emulate these traits:

Derek Jeter standing on the field at Yankee Stadium wearing New York Yankees jersey #2 with back to camera


Even though he was the sixth overall pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball draft, he was still stuck in the minors for almost 4 years before becoming the everyday shortstop for the Yankees in 1996.

In his first season in the minor leagues, he batted only .202, while committing 56 errors in only 126 games in his second season.

Since then, he went on to become the Yankees Captain, 5-time World Series winner, a Rookie of the Year, multiple-time All-Star, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger recipient, All-Star Game MVP, World Series MVP.

Even in later years, when it was suggested that his game was slipping and wasn’t up to his usual standard, he went back and rededicated himself to improving.

What you can learn:

“Potential” and pedigree can only account for so much.

Eventually, your performance has to speak for you.

Don’t let roadblocks get in your way–overcome them.

It may take some time, and almost certainly will not happen overnight, but patience and persistence will be key in helping you to overcome what is in your way.

It’s ok to get discouraged, but you cannot give up without giving it everything you have.

And, just because you have achieved any level of success, there are always that can be improved; there is no such thing as reaching perfection.

Pride & Professionalism

These two go hand in hand since you can’t be professional about your job if you aren’t proud to be doing it.

Derek Jeter brings both to the table.

As the team Captain, and as a fan of the Yankees, he is always stating how it is an honor and privilege to get the chance to put on the uniform every day.

Additionally, everything to him is about the company.

He rarely in interviews uses “I” or “me”, but rather speaks of “us” and “we” even when answering questions directed toward him personally, signifying the concept of there being no “I” in team.

And, even for someone of his celebrity status, it is rare to hear of anything he does in the media.

For his part, he tries to keep a low profile and cause any distraction from the team and what it is trying to accomplish.

What you can learn:

Take pride in what you do, and who you work for.

Take yourself out of the equation; make it about the product/service and the company not about a single individual even if it is just you doing it all.

Understand that no matter who the person is, no one is bigger than the company as a whole.

Act like you’ve been a success all along.

Dedication & Selflessness

In a game against the Boston Red Sox in July of 2004, Jeter dove headfirst into the stands while making a catch.

This was an “insignificant” game in relation to an entire season and how far along the season had progressed to that point, but some people just don’t see anything as insignificant.

In fact, not only did Jeter dive into the stands, the manner in which he gave up his body to make a play was something most people wouldn’t do in any circumstances, much less than in the course of a “normal” day.

On July 10, 2011, he recorded his 3,000th hit in the 3rd inning; many people would have called it a day and took the rest of the game off to bask in the glory, but he not only finished the game but ended with 5 hits in 5 at-bats and driving in the winning run.

As a matter of fact, he also played the following day and led off that game with a hit as well.

What you can learn:

Don’t hold anything back.

You can’t always play it safe; even if there doesn’t appear to be anything on the line you need to give all you can.

Even if you accomplish a specific goal, the day isn’t over, and tomorrow will bring a new set of challenges and goals to reach.

Set your sights on those next goals, and begin working toward them right away–there’s no sense in delaying it.

Even though at first glance, you may not have put these two subjects together, you have to admit that there is a certain correlation between captaining perhaps the greatest sports franchise on the planet and managing a career.

In fact, sometimes it’s better to look beyond the things people do and appreciate them for how they act.

There are times when certain people rise above just being athletes and can teach us a thing or three about improving the way we view our own lives and careers.

Personally, I’ve outgrown the idea of placing people who can run, throw, hit, etc. on a pedestal.

Now, I consider the person they are more so than the talent they possess.

Your Turn

Have you ever look at someone in a way other than what they are most known for? Do you just dismiss someone as “just another xxxx” when it comes to this stance? Who is someone along the lines of a Derek Jeter can you say something like this about?

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  1. Jeter has been a great player for a long time. As you said, people can learn from the way he has dedicated himself to his craft. I especially like the part about pride & professionalism. You’re right; you can’t be professional unless you take pride in what you are doing.

    1. With so much crap about athletes getting arrested, holding out for money, being a distraction and/or detriment to their teams, etc. it’s really good to know that there are some people who are still good role models and professionals. I’d throw Tom Brady into that category as well for the same reasons (maybe even more with the way he restructures his contract to defer money in order help the team now). I just wish there were more good examples to write about being a sports fan!

  2. He’s no longer the force he once was but he will go down as one of the
    best in history. He could not only teach us ‘regular’ types a lesson
    but also be a model to other athletes. As a Detroit Lions fan, I’m well
    exposed to players who put themselves first, who get caught up in the
    moment and allow it to impact the game, and who act the fool outside of
    their game, getting the wrong kind of attention for their ‘personal’
    decision. Jeter has never fallen prey to any of these things and I wish
    more pro athletes would model their behavior on and off the field or
    court after him.

    1. No, he definitely isn’t as good as his younger version, but to still almost lead the league in average while actually leading in hits at 38 & in his 17th year is a tremendous accomplishment. I feel you on the Lions situation; that team is a full of self-absorbed punks who have no class or dignity (based on their actions). Almost reminds me of the Bungles of a few years ago–sucked on the field but lead the league in arrests and off-field incidents by a mile.

      Living in a hot-bed of high school football (maybe not as big as the central part of the country but pretty big) I feel bad for the next generations. So much emphasis is placed on sports that the coverage sometimes outweighs the pro leagues in the newspapers. And, with all of that plus the people telling the kids of great and special they are, humility escapes a majority of them and they will just grow up to be divas who most likely will perpetuate the cycle of selfish, disruptive, frivolous behavior. I hope I’m wrong, and guys like Mike Trout, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and others have shown tremendous class in their short careers to date which does spark some hope.

  3. These so called “natural” athletes work extremely hard to get to this level. I read that Tiger Woods practices (still) after a tournament into the night. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. In every profession, people who are successful work very hard, but it looks easy to the rest of us. They just practiced much more than the rest of us.

  4. I kind of feel that way about Peyton Manning. I think he went well in the draft, but after Indy wrote him off, he’s made a name for himself in Denver and he is the same way with all interviews I’ve ever seen. He always thanks the team and doesn’t grab for glory or cause drama of the field. It’s rare to find a good athlete role model, but we could take some things from these guys for sure.

  5. The guy has to be a 1st ballot hall of famer. Captain and multiple world series winner on the highest profile team in the sport, he’s done well. To be going strong at his advanced age (for an athlete) is testament to how hard he has probably worked. What a life that guy has!

  6. Jeter was part of the reason I won my fantasy team this year! And yes, a true role model! If only you could find work ethic like that in the cube farm….hmmmm