Success Lessons From Baseball
Enthusiasm and Excitement Can Make The
I remember, about 35 years ago, reading two books by Frank
Bettger, the baseball player, about how enthusiasm made all
the difference in his life. His books made a difference in
my life at the time and are still well worth reading and re-reading.
Probably the most famous of his books is "How I raised myself
from failure to success in selling". Frank died in 1981 but
his books and priceless ideas live on.
In 1907, he played baseball for Johnstown in Pennsylvania
for $175 dollars a month. He was young and ambitious but was
fired for being lazy. He was not really lazy but had been
trying to control his nervousness by being laid back.
His manager told him: "Whatever you do after you leave here,
for heaven's sake, wake yourself up and put some life and
enthusiasm into your work."
Frank went to Chester, Pennsylvania where he played baseball
for only $25 a month. Frank commented: "Well, I couldn't feel
very enthusiastic on that kind of money but I began to act
After a few days he was given a trial at New Haven, Connecticut.
No one knew him in that league so he decided to establish
a reputation for enthusiasm. Once established, he would be
forced to live up to his own reputation:
"From the minute I appeared on the field I acted like a man
electrified. I acted as though I were alive with a million
Frank threw the ball hard and fast around the diamond and
ran like a madman to score for his team. All this was on a
hot day when the thermometer was 100 degrees. The act he was
putting on worked like magic.
His nervousness now worked for him by fueling his energy.
His enthusiasm affected the other players on the field and
they, too, became enthusiastic. He felt better during the
game and after it than ever before.
Next day, the New Haven newspaper wrote: "This new player,
Bettger, has a barrel of enthusiasm. He inspired our boys.
They not only won the game but looked better than any time
The papers began calling him "Pep" Bettger, the life of the
team. Enthusiasm increased his income in ten days from $25
a month to $185 a month. This was a 700% increase.
Bettger insists that he earned the income not for his ability
which was the same as before but for his enthusiasm alone.
He could not catch or hit better than before. Two years later
he was playing 3rd base for the St Louis Cardinals.
Another two years later, he injured his arm and was forced
out of baseball. Two years after this, he ended up selling
life insurance. He was a miserable failure at this until he
went to a public speaking course run by the great Dale Carnegie.
Carnegie, like his first manager, told him to be more enthusiastic.
Carnegie then went on to give a talk on enthusiasm to his
class. He became so excited that he threw a chair against
a wall and broke one of its legs. All this reminded Frank
of his early experiences in the baseball world.
"That night, I decided to stay in the insurance business and
put the same enthusiasm into selling that I had put into baseball."
During his first sales pitch after this decision, he became
so excited that he pounded his fist. He could hardly believe
it when his customer listened intently and then bought the
insurance policy. He does not equate enthusiasm with fist
pounding but "if fist pounding is what you need to arouse
yourself inside, then I am overwhelmingly for it. I know this:
When I force myself to act enthusiastic I soon feel enthusiastic."
Frank went on to become a great salesman and a man who has
inspired many other salesmen and ordinary citizens to live
their lives with enthusiasm.
A salesman who is enthusiastic can outsell a non enthusiastic
salesman who has much greater knowledge. The enthusiastic
person is like a magnet. He or she attracts and inspires others
to do what they thought was beyond them.
You can acquire enthusiasm simply and quickly by forcing yourself
to act enthusiastically. It also helps to re-read your favourite
inspiring passages daily.
Frank, himself, was inspired by a great quote from Walter
Chrysler. When Chrysler was asked to give the secret of success,
he listed qualities such as 'ability, capacity, and energy'
but added that the real secret was 'enthusiasm.'
"Yes, more than enthusiasm," said Chrysler, "I would say 'excitement'.
I like to see men get excited. When they get excited, they
get customers excited and we get business."
Enthusiasm can make a huge difference. We could all benefit
by being enthusiastic about something that we currently find
boring. We could be amazed at how excited we become and how
skilful we become. We could also notice that the fire of our
enthusiasm soon spreads to other people.
We could end up in the 'major leagues' of whatever we become
enthusiastic about and we could have more friends, more fun
and more money!
John Watson is an award winning teacher and fifth
degree black belt martial arts instructor. He has recently
written several books about achieving your goals and dreams.
They can be found on his website along with some other books
which are well worth reading not only once but many times.
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