Growth & Customers

Winning attitude: 6 sporting lessons to give your business a competitive edge

Discover some top sporting tips from Cal Ripken Jr and Jessica Mendoza that you can apply to help you build your business.

After heart-wrenching World Series losses in 2010 and 2011, Texas Rangers overcame their past of close calls and disappointments with their historic victory in the 2023 World Series.

For long-standing fans and the team members themselves, the victory was the culmination of years of collective effort, dedication, and resilience.

It’s a success story that is emblematic of what it means to be committed, consistent, and determined.

Top athletes don’t just exhibit skill and athleticism. They demonstrate resilience, strategic thinking, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

These qualities are as vital in business as they are in sports.

A winning attitude, characterized by determination, adaptability, and teamwork, can elevate a company from going through the motions to an exceptional level of performance and success.

In this article, we explore how the principles that baseball and softball legends implement on the field can be applied to the world of work.

By adopting these lessons, you can develop a mindset geared towards achieving your goals and fostering a culture of success within your organization.

Here’s what we cover:

Lesson 1: Consistency leads to confidence

“Have a short memory. Each day was a new day and you approached it with a routine that you knew would work. Try to take in what you learned yesterday and forget the rest of it.”

Cal Ripken Jr., National Baseball Hall of Famer, 2x AL MVP, former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman

In business, as on the sports field, it’s the day-to-day consistency that builds and sustains confidence.

When teams and individuals dedicate themselves to consistent routines in their roles, they create a rhythm of reliability and excellence.

It’s about doing the small things right every day.

This could mean consistently meeting deadlines, maintaining high standards in customer service, or regularly innovating processes. It’s about creating a culture where excellence in ordinary tasks is not just expected but celebrated.

This level of consistency fosters a strong sense of trust and dependability.

People come to rely on businesses or colleagues that regularly meet their needs and exceed expectations. The inevitable challenges and bumps in the road along the way are part of the process.

Within your team, this reliability builds a strong foundation of mutual trust and respect. As confidence grows, so does the ability to take on bigger challenges and pursue more ambitious goals.

Consistency in performance allows for better measurement and improvement. When tasks are performed consistently, it becomes easier to identify areas of strength and areas needing improvement.

This continuous process of reflection and refinement not only enhances skills and services but also boosts the confidence of those involved.

They know that their consistent efforts lead to tangible improvements and recognized achievements.

Lesson 2: Your team is the foundation of your success

“The best part about a team sport is that you don’t win unless everyone is on the same page. One of the things I learned from living with 18 women in the lead-up to the Olympics is it’s not easy. You’re not going to love everybody and it’s similar to a workplace. You’re not going to get on with every person. But do you want to win? Do you all want to go in one direction? I learned to find something positive about every single person on my team.”

Jessica Mendoza, 2x Olympic medalist in softball and current sports broadcaster

In business, you need to build teams where members are aligned in their goals, understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and work collaboratively towards common objectives.

High performance isn’t achieved just through individual excellence but via the efforts of a cohesive team. Creating an environment where communication, trust, and mutual respect are prioritized is essential.

Sometimes you aren’t going to get on with people on your team. That’s totally natural and normal. We can’t be best friends with everyone. But we can respect them.

Such teams are more adaptable, innovative, and effective in overcoming challenges, leading to sustainable success in any business endeavor.

An empowered team is a successful team.

From a mental health perspective, this can’t be overstated.

How much better does it feel to come into work surrounded by people you know you can rely upon and who you want to support and empower?

This sense of belonging and mutual support not only enhances productivity but also contributes significantly to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of each team member.

Cal Ripken Jr
National Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr

Lesson 3: Pick yourself up after defeat and go again

“I was part of the team that lost 21 games at the start of the season. We were the laughingstock of the league, but we had to push through. Again, focus on what’s happening ahead of you, not what’s behind you. I think I learned how to be a better teammate throughout that process. I could convince myself that I too could get through this. When you do, there’s value in that experience because you are going to face other tough times.“

Cal Ripken Jr., National Baseball Hall of Famer, 2x AL MVP, former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman

In the business world, setbacks and failures are not just inevitable, they’re essential. It’s often said that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, and this is particularly true in a business context.

Each setback provides an insight into what doesn’t work, offering a clearer path to what might. This learning process is integral to innovation and growth.

When a strategy fails, it forces a team to analyze and rethink their approach, leading to improved tactics and better decision-making.

When you see failures as learning opportunities, you cultivate a culture of resilience. A business that views setbacks not as roadblocks but as steppingstones encourages its team to take calculated risks.

This risk-taking is fundamental to breaking new ground and achieving significant progress. It fosters an environment where employees are not paralyzed by the fear of failure but are motivated to experiment and explore.

It can be difficult to view defeats in this way, especially when surrounded by media influences that seem to show our peers experiencing success after success.

Just remember that this is unlikely a true reflection of their experiences—and like you, they’re experiencing their own challenges.

Lesson 4: A disciplined approach to ensure progress

“A big part of it is effort. We focus on the accolades, ‘Did you win?’ But what does success look like, to me, it starts with asking, ‘Did I give everything I had that day?’”

Jessica Mendoza, 2x Olympic medalist in softball and current sports broadcaster

Discipline is the cornerstone of achievement. This unwavering commitment ensures that each day is a step toward greater success, even if the progress is incremental.

It is more than a practice; it’s a mindset.

It’s about making a pact with oneself to consistently invest effort, maintain focus, and uphold a standard of excellence, regardless of the immediate outcomes. This mindset transforms potential into performance, aspiration into achievement.

Success often gets distilled into simplistic terms—winning or losing. However, the essence of true success, as Jessica Mendoza suggests, lies in the effort and dedication behind the scenes.

It’s about assessing whether you’ve truly committed your all, whether every ounce of your energy was channeled towards your goals.

This perspective shifts the focus from external validation to internal satisfaction, cultivating a more sustainable and fulfilling measure of achievement.

Implementing this lesson into your business means fostering a culture where discipline is encouraged and embedded in the organization’s everyday fabric.

It means setting clear expectations, providing the resources for individuals to excel, and recognizing and reinforcing the value of disciplined effort in every task undertaken.

Lesson 5: Individual accountability fuels team success

“In baseball, due to the sport it is, there’s a lot of individual responsibility. Nobody can help you when you’re at the plate hitting, or when the ball comes to you. But it’s about taking those individual performances and then connecting the dots.”

Cal Ripken Jr., National Baseball Hall of Famer, 2x AL MVP, former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman

Baseball, just like in many aspects of business, places a significant emphasis on individual responsibility.

At the moment of truth, whether you’re facing a fastball at home plate or fielding a difficult catch, the spotlight is on you.

This intense personal accountability is a powerful motivator, driving each player to hone their skills, maintain focus, and strive for excellence in every action they take.

In the business world, individual responsibility equates to owning one’s projects, decisions, and outcomes. It’s about acknowledging that your contributions have a direct impact on the team’s success.

When each team member embraces their role, understands their tasks, and executes them with precision, the collective effort naturally translates into the best results.

Yet, the magic happens when these individual efforts are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the team’s strategy.

Just as a baseball team relies on each player performing their role to perfection, a business must integrate the diverse strengths and talents of its employees. The blending of individual accountability and collective endeavor creates a robust framework for achieving ambitious goals.

Lesson 6: Balance constructive feedback with positive reinforcement

“Listen to the compliments. Hear the positive as much as the negative. Try to find the same balance.”

Jessica Mendoza, 2x Olympic medalist in softball and current sports broadcaster

The power of feedback in shaping athletes is undeniable, and the same holds true in business.

The key is to strike a balance between acknowledging successes (positive reinforcement) and addressing areas for improvement (constructive feedback).

This balance is crucial for maintaining motivation and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

However, elite athletes—much like top-performing businesspeople—can focus heavily on the areas of improvement without taking a beat to appreciate how far they have come.

Recognizing and celebrating achievements, big or small, can significantly boost morale and motivation. It reinforces successful behaviors and outcomes, encouraging individuals to continue performing at their best.

Find the balance. The art lies in delivering feedback in an empowering rather than discouraging way.

This involves clear communication, empathy, and a focus on solutions rather than problems.

Encouraging a feedback culture where employees feel valued and understood promotes a positive work environment and drives continuous growth and learning.

Final thoughts

Resilience, discipline, and teamwork, epitomized by these insights from Cal Ripken Jr. and Jessica Mendoza, are crucial in building business excellence.

Consistency fosters reliability and confidence. Resilience transforms setbacks into strategic insights.

Embracing these values, along with individual accountability and positive reinforcement, transcends the realm of sports.

They are instrumental in nurturing a winning business mentality, enhancing innovation, and securing sustained success.