Cal Ripken Jr., famous for playing 2632 consecutive baseball games, gave a stimulating and amusing keynote about the ‘keys to success’ to an audience of 1400 at the annual Blackboard Users Conference in Baltimore. The baseball giant shared with us some of the lessons he had learnt from his career in the game.
His presentation style was quite low key but that only served to make a powerful impact as he weaved through it parallels between education and baseball. He charmed the Blackboard constituency as he revealed his first contact with Blackboard had been through his school aged daughter at her parent-teacher association meeting. His daughter had then gone on to explain to her father how Blackboard worked. His response: ‘as a parent I need to be better educated about the use of Blackboard. This is changing the face of education.’
Having seamlessly contextualised his keynote Ripken moved on to his main theme: perseverance. Perseverance, he claimed, was the core to his success in achieving his unbeaten record (and who could argue with that?). He had asked himself: ‘what traits would a player need to break my record?’ and he came up with a list of eight attributes:-
- The right approach – an honest approach to meet the challenges of the day.
- A strong will to succeed – a fire within the individual which drives him/her to succeed.
- Passion – love what you do. This will carry you through those difficult and challenging moments.
- Love to compete – thriving on competitive challenges.
- Consistency – the ability to perform every day.
- Conviction – seeing things through to the end.
- Strength – physical and mental.
- Life management – achieving a work/life balance
As the opening presentation this hit all the right notes. Ripken blended management theory with sporting references and personal lessons learnt, earning his standing ovation at the end. And for those of us who had never come across his name before and were not even familiar with the game of baseball (!) it was a great privilege to be there and listen to Cal Ripken's personal journey of perseverance towards success.