“Yogi” Berra was actually born Lawrence Peter Berra on May 12, 1925, and just passed away on September 22, 2015.
Yogi was a pro baseball catcher, manager, and coach for 19 seasons in Major League Baseball (1946–63, 1965).
He also had the distinguished honor of being an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series champion as a player, and he is one of only five players to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award three times.
Those who follow baseball revere him as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, and his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 bears witness to that.
But what many people around the world know Yogi for are his unique, witty and off-centered perspectives on life. Many refer to his quotes as Yogi-isms. But when you take a closer look at some of the wise, humorous and unusual things he said, you begin to sense that maybe Yogi had a better grasp on life, leadership and success than the rest of us. Here are my Top Twenty Yogi-isms for your consideration:
- “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – The point is simple. Do something, anything. Just don’t sit there and let inactivity or laziness ruin you.
- “You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Pay attention. It’s a lost art. Watch for more than details; watch for signs of character, of ethic and attitude.
- “It ain’t over till it’s over.” – Never say die, never surrender. Whether you like it or not, others are watching you, and you will impact their next moves.
- “No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.” – Popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Being where it’s easy or popular”isn’t always right or what’s best for you.
- “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” – Be smart…and if you can’t, then be as smart as you can. Effort matters, but intention, heart and common sense matter too.
- “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Invest wisely, because you’re gonna need it later. The future is a moving target, so you better pay attention.
- “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” – Pay it forward. It will come back to you. It may not come back from every person you help, but payback will find its way back.
- “We made too many wrong mistakes.” – Don’t be afraid to fail, but avoid those mistakes that can be terminal. It’s up to you to avoid the team ending or character destroying activities or actions.
- “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” – Perception isn’t the only thing, but it is a huge thing. Learn to cast vision in pizza-pie sizes, but lead in bite-sized pieces.
- “You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.” – Overstating the obvious is never a winning strategy. There’s nothing to be gained by undermining another person’s success to make you feel better.
- “Never answer an anonymous letter.” – Quit worrying about cowardly critics, and certainly don’t dignify them with any response. Stay busy and focused on the areas you know need your touch.
- “Slump? I ain’t in no slump; I just ain’t hitting.” – Just because you’re not winning doesn’t mean you aren’t playing well. Playing for a championship or working for success means focusing on the long haul. Do the little things well and excellence is sure to be the end result.
- “The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Times they are a changin’, so you better work towards the future that will be. Consider what factors or circumstances can or will change over time, and adjust your life, practices, policies and teams accordingly.
- “Pair up in threes.” – Over planning makes it easier to over deliver. Help yourself and your team succeed by being over manned and over prepared. The Bible says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
- “It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” – Make sure that people are hearing the message you genuinely want heard. The old TV commercial that said “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” reminds us that too much noise and verbal clutter can undermine the value of the important things that need to be heard.
- “I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.” – Don’t ignore the obvious signs in front of your face. How many times have we all been guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees? When facing challenges work on those that you can see first.
- “I never said most of the things I said.” – Be clear that you say what you mean and mean what you say. You’ll get credit for saying and doing things that you truly weren’t responsible for. Take extra care with your words to minimize your exposure here.
- “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.” – We all face stressful times, but pride determines whether we get burned. Humility is one of your most important tools in dealing with conflict and misunderstandings. Remember, humility is not just a virtue, it’s a discipline.
- “So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face.” – You may not be perfect in every way, but you that has no bearing on your success. Don’t waste time listening to your critics. There’s always someone willing to point out your flaws. Instead, leave them behind in a wake of your own awesomeness.
- “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” – Nobody, no company, no organization is perfect. Get over it if you’re holding yourself or your team to an unrealistic expectation of perfection.
There you have it! So the next time you’re faced with an unusual problem or crazy challenge with your team or your organization, don’t give up or panic. Pull out the Yogi Berra Guide To Living. He’s sure to have some sound advice to help get you through.