Thursday, September 11, 2014


As an educator, the start of school often brings on a variety of emotions and feelings- the feeling of newness, the fear of the unknown and the desire to be successful, even more so than the previous year.  The hashtag #BestYearEver has been present across educator PLNs and Twitter chats since the end of July.  And yes, we are finally here.  So the two questions I ask all of you as we transition from early to mid September is this: Is being successful a choice?  Does one make a conscious effort to surround themselves with positive people who have found success because of effort so that they themselves are in the right environment to succeed?  

According to educational leader and colleague Brad Currie (@bradcurrie), who posted a piece entitled Successful People Choose on his Engaged and Relevant blog, "we all choose where we want to be in life. Each and every one of us has the control to put ourselves around positive people and in successful situations. Choose to be that successful person so that you can have a profound impact on others."  This made me pause and pause hard about the 2014 team, and change the context slightly of my question above:  Did the Yankee administration make a conscious effort to surround the team with positive people who have found success because of effort so that the team itself was in the right environment to succeed?  I have to say NO.  Here's why.

The moves we made were not spectacular this year and this off season- they were mediocre.  I like the motley crew of guys we have- the ruddy group of players who have made it this far for a reason.  But frankly, Brian McCann hasn't lived up to expectations, Carlos Beltran was not worth the effort, Jacoby Ellsbury only recently started earning his paycheck and the rest of the fill-ins are just that fill-ins.  Guys like Chase Headley, Martin Prado and Stephen Drew kind of just found their way onto the team because we had some holes.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, says, "It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people… Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of’s success." His formula for hiring looks like this:

1. Will you admire this person?

2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they're entering?

3. Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?

How does this formula apply to this year's players?  Well, we may admire the new team members for their grit but they did under perform as a whole.  They didn't seem to raise the average level of effectiveness of the group and there are no superstars in the new team.  The couple of guys that might have some chance of superstar status might be Dellin Betances and perhaps Masahiro Tanaka.

So, being successful is a choice because we have the opportunity to do something great, if we choose to take the chance to develop ourselves, make ourselves better and take risks.  Surrounding ourselves with the right people, the ones that charge us up, make us better, is a good first step toward success.  And sure, one could argue that players don't choose who they play with on their team, they don't field the team, so to speak, but they do have the opportunity to connect with the guys that make them better from coaches to peers.  They also choose their friends and the way they wish to conduct their lives off the field.  Yes, being successful is in fact a choice.  It seems that in 2014, we made the wrong one.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @suzieprof


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