In 1952 Ralph Kiner was one of best hitters in baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He crushed the ball, being one of only seven players to hit at least least 30 home runs and drive in at least 100 runs in each of his first five seasons. He also led the National League in home runs that year…for the seventh consecutive season.
In 1953 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs.
Kiner wanted a major pay increase. He felt he was not being paid what he was worth based on his production.
Pirates owner Branch Rickey refused, and uttered the words that are among the most important in baseball, in business and in life…
“We finished in last place with you. We can finish in last place without you.”
Now in no way was Ralph Kiner responsible for Pittsburgh being a bad team. No doubt he saved the Pirates from having an even worse record than they did.
And quite possibly Branch Rickey (who would become the man who signed Jackie Robinson as the first black major leaguer) chose not to keep Kiner as part of a master plan. After all, this was a ten player trade. Both Pittsburgh’s and Chicago’s rosters were radically different by the time it was over.
But the lesson resonates. In fact it hits like a Ralph Kiner home run…
Value isn’t measured in individual statistics. It is measured in the impact you have on your organization.
Sure, statistics are an indicator..one of many…of possible to the organization.
And owners take that into consideration. It’s the only thing fantasy league owners take into consideration.
But actual owners and general managers don’t want your statistics. They want the RESULTS of those statistics.
Sidenote # 1: I’ve been a New York Mets fan pretty much my whole life. In the late 1980’s Darryl Strawberry was the best player I’ve ever seen…on the last day of the season. I’m not curious enough to look this up, but I bet he was the best statistical player in the history of the game when the outcome was decided and it no longer mattered.
Sidenote # 2: As an announcer, Ralph Kiner became synonymous with the New York Mets. He was part of the broadcast team from 1962 until his death this past February at 91 years old. There’s a guy who really added value to an organization.
People with a stake in the team want wins. And in an image conscious world…they want someone they paying customers want to see, and want to bring their kids to see.
And someone whose jersey they could buy for hundred to $240.00.
Now…bring this lesson out of baseball and into the 21st century.
We are all involved in organizations. Families. Couples. Companies. Home business organizations. Cub Scout Troops. Softball teams. The whole shootin’ match.
You can have the prettiest numbers out of anyone. And there is definitely value in individual achievement. It sets a standard for everyone else, and can definitely contribute to the bottom line.
But if you’re not engaged in the process of success, if you do your job and then go home…your value to the organization is limited.
You become a cog in the machine. And cogs…even valuable ones, can be replaced. There’s always someone better, faster, cheaper.
When you add value by making the system part of you, you make everyone around you better. You increase buy in by your example. You see things you might not have seen and add things you might not have added, simply because you are more present.
And you promote your organization out in the world with enthusiasm and a loving heart. Because it’s not just what you do. It’s a part of who you are.
By all means…ask for and expect what you’re worth in the marketplace. That’s as it should be.
But don’t be a nine to fiver. Be in the organization…and of it.
What are you proud to be part of? Who or what do you feel is better because you’re a part of it? What would you like to be more present for? Comment and share…let us know where you stand!