From the Archive: Do you have what it takes to be a Hall of Fame member?

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I am away today, visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame, to see the induction of Braves’ great Chipper Jones. So I thought I would replay this post from four years ago after my first trip to visit the HoF.
Being in the Baseball Hall of Fame is a pretty rare honor. In its history, there have been somewhere around 80,000 professional players, yet there are only 306 in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Walking around and reading the plaques on the walls it becomes evident quickly that it takes a special person. This becomes even clearer when you hear the speeches at the induction.

Similar stories

I had the good fortune to attend this year’s induction of three players and three managers. Their stories had many similarities and they had a consistent message. Here are the things that I learned makes up a Hall of Fame member.


Each person inducted in 2014 started with a burning desire to be in baseball. They all started as little boys playing the game. Often they played other sports as well, but baseball was the driving desire.

Hard work

Each of them had stories of countless hours of throwing, hitting, and fielding, initially with a father or older brother and then later coaches and teams. They didn’t waiver from this practice. If you go by Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule they had all reached that by their early teen years.

Willingness to learn

Each of the inductees had multiple people they learned from, even after they had achieved a high level of success. Each new coach saw something different and were able to teach them a better way or a new trick or a new approach. They were coachable even when they were the coach.

Willingness to fail

Each of these inductees told stories of failure. Bad seasons. More losses than wins. Strike outs instead of hits. Being fired from coaching jobs. All of them dealt with failure, but each came back and just kept trying.


With that learning came adapting to the lessons taught. If you are not willing to change what you have done before when it is no longer working then you are not going to be successful. As a pitcher if you can’t throw it 99 mph anymore then you need to learn a curve ball. If you are unwilling to change your ways you will not make it.

Staying healthy

Each player talked about the doctor or trainer that helped them keep their bodies in shape. To last in their endeavors they had to stay in the field so they listened to the advice that kept them there. The business world is the same way. If you can’t stay at work you will not be productive. This is how they had 20 year careers to help them achieve their success.


Even though they were the stars, each of them acknowledged the importance of teammates. No hitting star is going to be great without having someone else already on the bases. No pitcher will be great without having fielders behind them or a catcher in front.

Lessons for your life

How do you become a Hall of Famer in your life?

  1. You have to have a desire to do what you do. If you don’t you won’t be that successful. Going through the motions does not get you to the Hall of Fame.
  2. You have to be willing to put in the hard work. Sorry, but four hour workweeks, as much as we may like them, won’t get you there.
  3. You have to be willing to constantly be learning. If you think you know it all then you will be finished. This requires reading, studying, observing, listening and doing.
  4. You have to be willing to fail. As the old saying goes “if you are not failing you are not trying.” Hall of Famers have to be willing to strike out, lose a game, or get fired and not let it set them back for long.
  5. You have to be adaptable and switch courses. Perhaps you need to pursue a new field, a new venture or even a new career. If you are unwilling to do so you will never achieve the Hall of Fame.
  6. You have to stay healthy. Companies are putting the emphasis on wellness these days. Staying active is not easy and we sit far too long. A company that is helping get us beyond that is Utilifit. I use it to get me out of my chair. Our careers are usually longer than a professional athlete’s so staying healthy is critical.
  7. You have to recognize the value of a team. The support you get from the people you work with is critical.

Hopefully these tips will help you make it to your Hall of Fame someday.
By the way, if you are a fan of baseball visiting Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame on an induction weekend is an incredible experience, I highly recommend it.

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