Yogi Berra on Giving Advice

It’s the dog days of summer, which means major league baseball is in full swing heading into the final months of the season. Teams vying for glory in the Fall Classic made changes to their roster by the trade deadline to make a final push to go deep into the playoffs, hoping for a shot to win it all in the World Series. For baseball fans, it will be a time of scoreboard watching, stat quoting, and friendly banter between rivals on which team is going to go all the way.

During its legendary, illustrious history, professional baseball has had some of the greatest leaders of the past 150 years. But no one stands above one particular player and coach when it comes to head-scratching quotes other than the legendary Yogi Berra.

Starting as a player with the New York Yankees in 1946 and ending his career as a coach for the Houston Astros in 1989, it’s easy to say Yogi saw a thing or two around the diamond that gave him an interesting outlook on life. The 18-time All-Star, 13-time World Series champ, and 3-time league MVP is known for his no-nonsense, communication style.

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Before his professional baseball career, Berra served as a gunner in the infamous Normandy beach landings of WWII, earning a Purple Heart. Just like the brave servicemen who didn’t give up when they were against all odds, Berra brought this attitude to baseball when his team’s back was against the wall. It’s painstakingly obvious to say something isn’t over until it’s actually done and finished. However, so many times people give up too soon when victory is just around the corner. There is always hope and a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

“Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.”

When Yogi said this, I’m not sure he realized that the math didn’t add up. But we’ve all heard the phrase give 110%. If your competitors are giving 110%, how does an organization get an advantage? Simply by giving 130%, Yogi style. However, this quote is more aimed at your mindset. Yes, to achieve success, you have to put in the work and get your hands dirty. But, it starts with planning, envisioning, and having the right mentality needed to deal with setbacks and challenges when they arise.

“How can you think and hit at the same time?”

As a catcher, Berra had one of the best batting averages of his position. With a career BA of .285 over the course of nearly 20 years, he knew how to put the ball in play. Which is why this nugget of advice has some weight behind it. Professionals of all career paths can often psych themselves out by overthinking a problem. For baseball players, it can lead to a slump at the plate. For organizations, it can lead to playing it too safe and losing market share. And for leaders, it can lead to ineffective communication, planning, and project management. Trust your instincts, focus on the moment, and keep your eye on the ball—a homerun is within reach if you clear your mind and just play the game.

As Berra put it, “You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.”

What are your favorite leadership quotes? Who would you like us to highlight for next month’s leadership advice? Let us know in the comments section below!


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