October 28, 2019

Positive Affirmation Can Be More Valuable Than Advice – A Powerful Lesson from the World Series

Sometimes when we’re struggling or in a slump, encouraging words from a teammate or coach can have more impact than we realize – and certainly be more valuable than “advice.”

I was away the past few weeks, and with my beloved Cardinals having been swept out of the playoffs by the Nationals, didn’t have much reason to follow the World Series from afar. But yesterday while flying home from overseas, I read something so striking, so positive, and so powerful that I couldn’t wait to get home to see Game 4 last night.

The Astros have a stacked lineup and their most valuable player in 2019 has been Alex Bregman. In fact, he had such a great season that many are predicting that he’ll beat out the great Mike Trout for the American League MVP Award. However, Bregman struggled mightily in the first three games of the World Series and was mired in an awful 1-for-13 slump. Houston managed to win Game 3 (after losing the first two games) but Bregman went 0-for-5 and stranded six runners on base! He had to be discouraged and extremely frustrated with his performance.

As reported by several media outlets, after the final out of Game 3, Astros Shortstop Carlos Correa approached his slumping teammate and shared these strong, very intentional words:

Today is a positive day for you. A) because we won, and B), because tomorrow, you’re going to crush.”

During postgame interviews, as Correa was recounting what he told Bregman, he went even further, undoubtedly knowing that what he was about to say to the media would get back to his teammate. He declared about Bregman:

“They can’t contain that guy for long. He’s one of the best players in the game. Mark my words – Tomorrow, he’s going to go off!"

How beautiful. How powerful. How meaningful. I read that and got choked up. I immediately began to think about salespeople, particularly slumping salespeople, and how badly we all need encouragement…how rarely most people get it…and how far just a few strong words of affirmation would go.

Notice, too, what Correa didn’t do. He didn’t critique Bregman’s swing, suggest a new batting stance, or share opinions about why he was slumping. Nope. He simply encouraged his heart, reminded him how good he was, and confidently declared that tomorrow he was “going to crush.”

Execs and Managers:

  • Who on your team might really benefit hearing sincere words of affirmation from you?
  • Whose heart needs to be encouraged?
  • Who needs to be reminded of their worth or inspired to keep fighting the good fight?

Salespeople:

  • Who’s encouraging your heart when you most need it?
  • To whom do you turn for words of affirmation when you’re in a slump or doubting yourself?
  • Who in your life or on your sales team could use a pick-me-up and some cheerleading from you?

Sales (and life) can be hard. We all need peers, colleagues, mentors, managers – someone – to speak the truth in love to us. And it might not always be about encouragement. Sometimes we need a swift kick in the ass and someone to shake us out of excuse making or a pity party.

Who’s doing that for you? Who’s reminding you of past success, telling you that you can do it, encouraging you to keep going and keep pushing, or calling you out when you start seeing yourself as victim? I’d love to hear who that person is for you. Or, if you don’t have someone who plays that role right now, I’d like to hear that, too. I’ve got a few ideas brewing that are too premature to share, but I’m sure curious if there’s someone in your life doing what Carlos Correa did for Alex Bregman on Friday night.

Oh, by the way, I made it home to see Game 4 on Saturday. Bregman went off. Three hits including a grand slam homerun and he drove in five runs, setting the record for most RBI in a World Series game by a third baseman. As Correa proclaimed he would: He crushed!

Now you go crush sales this week.