Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Here is a few excerpts of a great article written by Don Yaeger for on Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan:

“I came up from small-town Texas,” the Hall of Fame pitcher tells SUCCESS. “And all I knew was to throw as hard as I could for as long as I could. Early in my career in the big leagues, when I would get in trouble I would resort back to that mindset. Finally, after being unsuccessful with that approach—I learned that when I was just throwing hard I was throwing wild and walking guys and losing games—it finally dawned on me. If I didn’t make an adjustment or change, then I was going to be one of those players who was very gifted, but didn’t make a lot out of it. I had to learn to lean on my mind, not just my body.”

Ryan learned a lesson in those early days of his career that he offers to young pitchers and young businesspeople alike when they ask him for tips on how he remained at the very top of the game for so many years.

“It is important to know that to get to the top and to be successful at the top requires two different skill sets,” says Ryan, who today serves as president of the Texas Rangers. “A lot of people get here with the God-given ability, the gift that they received. But to stay here and have a lengthy career takes a commitment to make sacrifices that most won’t continually make. Talent may get you here, but it takes work, real work, to stay here, and it takes development of the mental side of your game to separate yourself on this level.”

Ryan says he also realized that if he couldn’t control his body, he couldn’t control his arm or the baseball. He also had to control the performance anxiety that made him throw harder instead of smarter.

Many young and talented players climb from obscurity to stardom seemingly overnight, then disappear almost as quickly, Ryan says. “There are lots of folks who make it but can’t stay there and it is because they don’t have the discipline required to keep them up there.”

That is just as true, he says, in business as it is in sports. And many of the lessons he’s learned about longevity can be as helpful to a salesman as to a starting pitcher.

“I know it sounds simple, but if you want to be good at something for a long period of time you have to love what you do,” Ryan says. “I mean really love it. And your family has to love it because just doing your job will become a part of your life.”

“I think it is important to have high expectations of yourself and of those around you,” he says. “If you don’t expect to succeed, you won’t.”

One of Ryan’s greatest strengths is his versatility. He has co-written six books and, after retiring from baseball, he teamed with the U.S. government to promote physical fitness. He has held ownership in a bank and a restaurant. Ryan served on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for six years (1995-2001). His name was frequently mentioned in the news as a potential candidate for a statewide office in Texas, though he has never run in any race. Other interests include cattle ranching and the beef business.

“Just like on the field, I still have a desire to compete in everything I do,” he says. “If you love to compete, your heart will be in whatever you do. That formula worked for me.”

Read the entire article: