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Comment of the Day: Learning from Bobby Cox

Oct 12, 2010, 8:51 AM EDT

I roll my eyes when sports figures actively try to teach us life lessons. But that doesn't mean that we can't draw some important life lessons from watching them in action.

There are limits, I think, about how much professional sports and professional athletes can teach us. Sports are ultimately best consumed as entertainment. When sports figures actually try to teach us life lessons, they’re usually in the form of really bad, gimmicky business management or motivational books that are better used as kindling for the fire rather than for the mind.

But they can, on occasion, teach by example. Reader DLF thinks Bobby Cox did so, anyway:

Beyond just missing him in the dugout, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned from him.

In my professional life, I am a director of a business unit with about 200 employees. They don’t pitch, hit or field, but they have a job to do and I manage that team. From Bobby, I’ve learned that downward loyalty creates upward loyalty. I’ve learned that I should praise my team in public, but not do so too much or it will create unrealistic expectations.

I’ve learned that I should criticize only in private where it may lead to constructive growth without public shaming of the miscreant. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to argue with the umpires — in my case the CEO and board of directors — because they don’t always see what really happened.

I’ve learned that personnel and policy decisions should be made slowly and not changed on a whim. I’ve learned that every member of the team has a role to play and that if they don’t want to play that role, they need to be on another team. I’ve learned that rookies can come in and contribute. I’ve learned that people who are purportedly bit players, if placed in the right role, can find ways to really shine and make all of us better.

I’ve learned humility in victory and unfortunately I’ve learned restraint in defeat. Unlike Bobby Cox, I’m not one of the best of all time at what I do, but I’m better at it from learning from him.

Thanks Bobby.

  1. easports82 - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Is DLF hiring? My boss could stand to learn from his post.

  2. Levi Stahl - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    I found myself thinking along the same lines over the past week as I watched Cox’s team, though DLF has done a much better job than I had of nailing down the details. I kept coming back to the sense that I think I’d enjoy and appreciate working for Cox in a way that I never would enjoy working for LaRussa, even though I think the latter is also a great manager. The trust, confidence, and expectations that Cox extends, then gets in return, are exactly what I look for in a manager.

  3. BoyOBoy - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    You mean I shouldn’t have placed my life savings with Lenny Dykstra?

  4. BC - Oct 12, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Someone get me an Email address for DLF so I can send my resume.

  5. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Nah, that was a good call.

  6. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    That may be the saddest picture ever.

  7. Jeff J. Snider - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    “In my professional life, I am a director of a business unit with about 200 employees. They don’t pitch, hit or field, but they have a job to do and I manage that team.” Change 200 to 25, and DLF could be John Russell’s replacement in Pittsburgh.
    (As a Dodger fan, my first instinct was to make the joke about Joe Torre’s replacement in L.A., but it’s too soon to be that brutally honest.)

  8. Route36West - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    “When sports figures actually try to teach us life lessons, they’re usually in the form of really bad, gimmicky business management or motivational books that are better used as kindling for the fire rather than for the mind.”
    Tell that to Kenny Powers I live my life based on his motivational audio books.

  9. Route36West - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Really?

  10. THE godfather - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    I’m just glad I didn’t see another writer comment about how he finished 500 games over .500. I guess math isn’t a requirement in college anymore

  11. froggy - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Has everyone forgotten that this guy is a spousal abuser?
    Geez Louise.
    Learn from him?
    Yeah, I learned from him not to make my wife bleed.

  12. YANKEES1996 - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Bobby Coxs’ track record and his list of accomplishments in the game of baseball is truly impressive and will most certainly be recognized by enshrinement in the HOF, not a bad choice of a person to pattern your life after.

  13. IdahoMariner - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    really? see, now, that p-sses me off. I was all verklempt for a second there.
    I still think DLF would be rockin-cool to work for, though.

  14. dlf - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Thanks Craig, Idaho, BC, and easports. I appreciate it.

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