This past Sunday the New York Yankees retired their remaining single digit number, which belonged to their former captain Derek Jeter who played with them for twenty seasons. For most of his career Jeter was consistently among the leaders in the American League in hits and runs scored, and he served as the Yankees’ team captain from 2003 until his retirement in 2014.
The stadium was full during the retirement ceremony and resounded with chants of D-E-R-E-K J-E-T-E-R. As I watched from the comfort of my living room, I had tears in my eyes and chills down my spine when they replayed some of Jeter’s most memorable plays. Here are a few of the hits from the highlight reel:
- A clip of Jeter running from the shortstop position to catch a fly ball and crashing into the third base seats.
- A clip of a runner trying to score off a ball hit to the outfield; the outfielder threw the ball errantly toward the dugout rather than home plate. Jeter was somehow there, caught the ball, and flipped it toward the catcher, who got the runner out. The play became known as “the flip.”
- A clip of Jeter hitting a walk-off home run in game 4 of the 2001 World Series, which gave the Yankees and the people of New York an emotional boost after the 9/11 attacks.
Number 2 is the Yankees’ all-time career leader in hits, games played, and stolen bases. He won five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger awards, two Hank Aaron awards, and a Roberto Clemente award. He was also the all-time leader in the MLB in hits by a shortstop.
But what you probably don’t know about Derek Jeter are the little—yet significant—things that have impacted others. When CC Sabathia gave up a few early runs in one of his first games with the Yankees in 2009, Jeter sat next to him on the bench and said, “I’ve got your back.” That same inning he went out and hit a home run.
And you may not have heard about Jeter meeting a rookie at the Yankees spring training complex. No one had heard of this kid’s name and he was sitting off by himself. Jeter approached him by speaking his first name and asking how he was doing, and just that small instance of the captain knowing the rookie’s name and checking in with him made a huge impression. That player is Arron Judge, and he is currently tied for the most home runs this season in the MLB.
Impact starts at home, and Derek Jeter’s parents groomed him to make an impact. Each year as he was growing up, they required him to sign a contract about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Jeter knew the profound impact his mother had on him, which is why he insisted his retirement ceremony be held on Mother’s Day: in order to pay tribute to his mom, the woman who wouldn’t allow him to say the words, “I can’t.”
As you are living your career, are you impacting your world like Derek Jeter did? In my career as a Sales and Leadership expert, I often remind people that being a leader is not about telling people what to do. You lead by living it, and when you live it, your example has a profound impact on others.
If you’re selling and trying to demonstrate value, are you walking the talk during your sales presentation? If you’re trying to lead employees to greater productivity, are you leading by example with your own productivity and commitment? If you’re coaching employees, are you impacting them by listening to what they have to say or are you doing all the talking?
The only way to truly impact others is to live and lead by example. When you do that, your number may just get retired, just like #2.