Can you hit a change-up?

“There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”

-Tommy Lasorda, former Los Angeles Dodger manager, 1976-1996

As a huge sports fan, I’m a sucker for a good sports quote. Generally, however, I don’t like to try to tie them to other areas of life. I think it is important to keep things in proper perspective. The words above, though, do make some sense in other areas of life, especially in our professional ones.

I suspect we all know folks in our work lives who fall into one of the three categories above on their own team in their own baseball park of a workplace. On the surface, the quote seems to imply something pretty straightforward about the ability of any one chosen baseball player. But does it really?

When I read the quote, I think of two concepts: synergy and change.

Synergy, after all, is needed to achieve success on any team. It means, by its very nature, that the sum effort of all the parts (the team members) is greater than the contribution of even the best single team member. Easy concept, right? Well, maybe not so easy if, on a team of nine, there are six “watchers” two “wonderers” and only one “maker”. Do you know any teams like that? How and why does that happen? Often, it seems to happen because many assume the only “maker” should be the manager of the team. But consider the baseball example: Does the manager hit? Does the manager field or pitch? No – the players do. The players make it happen. The fact is, leaders can (and should) come from all levels of the team, not just those who hold an assumed position of authority based on a title.

Change. The very word inspires fear in some these days. The “I-can’t-listen-to-another-speech-about-CHANGE!” kind of fear all of us have felt at one time or another. So I won’t attempt one. I’ll just keep it to a couple simple thoughts: The ability to be adaptable, approach change with a positive attitude and participate in making change happen is no longer a nice-to-have for an employee, or quite honestly, for an employer. It is a must-have for both.

As much as I’m certainly not a Dodger fan (a currently-suffering Rockies fan, if you must know), maybe that’s what Tommy Lasorda was talking about in his quote and what allowed his teams to win four National League pennants, eight division titles and two World Series titles during his time as manager.

Make It Happen: Visit us at

Photo:, Mike Liu

** Matt is the HR staffing manager for American Family’s west and central territories and works out of our Denver office. He has been with American Family for 14 years and spent seven years in claims before spending the last seven in HR.

One Comment

  1. Chie
    Posted September 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I agreed. Everywhere you go, you’d see these type of people. At the same time, I’d like to make follower to change their mind to become “make it happen”. I believe people want to appreciate each other.
    Change is also always good thing to everyone. If things gets old, everyone would not challenge themselves. I love to challenge myself and others so that we inspire each other and good for the environment.

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