Written by Anthony Demangone
It is easy to smile when you're winning. When the ball bounces your way. Success puts a skip in your step. You have an extra dose of patience, and you glow with self-confidence.
Everyone loves being around a winner.
But winning streaks end. Bad days are always a part of life, and you'll have them as a manager.
String a few bad days together, and those smiles can be hard to find. That skip in your step? Gone.
But not everyone. There are some folks who push through adversity with a smile. It isn't the smile of ignorance. Rather, it's the smile of a professional who knows it is time to roll up one's sleeves and get to work.
I've always been impressed by leaders who confront those bad days, and simply shrug them off. They let go of the negativity and stress, and focus on fixing the problems before them. Good or bad, these leaders don't change. That steadiness can serve as a wonderful foundation for the rest of the team.
And since it is baseball season, I'll throw out an old name - Chuck Tanner.
He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 70's and 80's, and guided the Buccos to a World Series championship in 1979. I grew up a fan of all things Pittsburgh, and I worshipped the Pirates...then known as the Lumber Company.
I read an article about Tanner recently. One of the best parts of growing up is learning more about the heroes of your youth. And it is all the sweeter when they turn out to be stand-up guys. In the article, Phil Garner, who played second base for those Pirates, spoke about Tanner.
“He never met a day he didn’t like,” Garner said. “His famous deal was you could get beat 15-0 in the worst conditions under the sun – snowing, sleeting and hailing – and he’d come in after the game and say it was great. He’d say, ‘Just think what else we could be doing? Nothing else is as good as playing baseball.’ We’d say, ‘Yeah, right, Chuck,’ but his attitude permeated everybody’s spirit.
“Chuck loved life every day. You know when you saw Chuck Tanner there wasn’t going to be any sourpuss. No matter what he was doing in his life, he put it aside and was happy to see you.”
Just how optimistic was Tanner? During the 1979 World Series, the Pirates fell behind the Baltimore Orioles three games to one. Clearly, the Pirates were in big trouble. Before game five started, Tanner learned that his mother had passed away. She had suffered a stroke weeks earlier, and her health had deteriorated. I can only imagine how he felt. Before the game started, Tanner gathered the team together.
“My mother was a great Pirates fan,” he was reported to have told his team before Game 5. “She knows we’re in trouble, so she went upstairs to get some help.”
The Buccos went on to win three games in a row, and win the World Series.
So, here's to the optimists. Here's to those who let go of the bad, and get to work.
So, a question for you all. When you hit a rough patch, how do you power through? How do you maintain that positive outlook?
Have a great weekend, guys.