This morning former Los Angeles Dodger's player and World Series Champion, Bill Kruger, stopped by to give his talk: Finding Greatness in Others.
Kruger's journey to professional baseball is nothing short of remarkable. Growing up Kruger's mother was always a big baseball fan, but Kruger was drawn to basketball. He earned a full scholarship to the University of Portland where he was a starting guard for all four years. At his mother's urging, Kruger also joined the baseball team for his final two years of college and began pitching for the first time in his life. Kruger decided to pursue a career as a professional baseball player but after four unsuccessful tryouts, he was starting to lose hope. By his fifth tryout, Kruger was offered a position on one of the worst teams in minor league baseball with only two years of pitching experience under his belt. A major league scout saw potential in Kruger and decided to send him to Major League camp despite the fact that Kruger had never pitched a winning game in his career as a professional baseball player. After two years of hard work, Kruger's dream materialized with an opportunity to play for the Oakland A's.
Utilizing the lessons Kruger learned in baseball and in life, he broke down Finding Greatness in Others into four main categories:
Hope Springs Eternal
Springtime is more than just the start of baseball season, it's a refresh and a time filled with hope and opportunity. The lessons learned in baseball can be applied to everyday situations as well. Kruger gave the example that three important aspects of a successful team are enthusiasm, the ability to dream, and laughter as vehicles for the team to connect and work successfully. He expanded on one of his experiences playing in college for an extraordinarily tough coach. Kruger learned grit, and hard work playing for this coach. They were a great team with great talent, but they always came up short because the coach never fostered team connection.
Diamonds in the Rough
Kruger expanded on the importance of mentoring, not criticizing. Teaching your team to be better without putting them down, where humor can play a large part of your team's social connection. He also emphasized the importance of "increasing the runway". Meaning, that you can't let the moment beat you. Readdress big moments, find your flaws and celebrate your successes. Make the changes you need to make but then move on from the moment and "extend your runway" so you are ready for the next big thing.
Call from the Bullpen
Play to your strengths. Kruger highlighted that a small percentage of MLB players are good at everything, the vast majority know what they are good at, and capitalize on those strengths. Your team has the same, help your employees find and clarify their strengths and help them build on them in an environment where they have the opportunity to be successful.
Field of Dreams
"If you build it, they will come" is more than just a tagline from the famous movie. Building success is a challenge and finding greatness in others can be an even bigger challenge. Kruger gave the example of his daughter's autism diagnosis. Against all odds, he and his wife had to dig deeper to believe in their daughter's abilities when all the odds were stacked against her. Now she is a successful graduate from law school and has surpassed all expectations and defied limitations.
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