Career Wisdom According to Yogi

Nothing is like it seems, but everything is exactly like it is.

–Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra was a catcher with the New York Yankees for eighteen seasons between the 1940s to the 1960s, and though he holds the record for the most World Series Championships as a player (ten), he is arguably best known nowadays for his quirky quotes. Even if you’re not familiar with Berra, you’ve probably heard (or even repeated) some of his sayings, such as, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” “It’s déjà vu all over again,” and “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

“It’s déjà vu all over again.”

The fascinating thing about these “Yogisms,” and a large part of why his name is still brought up today, is the ironic wisdom they contain. At face value, the sayings contradict themselves and make no sense, yet a deeper truth comes from them that isn’t perceived initially. Like the quote at the beginning of this article, there can be a big difference between what seems to be and what actually is.

Start Playing by the “Right” Rules

When you’re in the middle of your work and unable to recognize that you’re on a playing field, you may think you know what’s going on. You know the “rules” and are following them to the T. You’re working hard and expecting to earn the rewards, but then someone else gets the recognition or raise or promotion, and you’re left wondering what the heck went wrong. You may feel robbed or cheated. You may want to blame those who received the reward you were expecting. After all, you are the one playing by the rules, and they aren’t.

The reality is that they are playing Monopoly by the rules of Monopoly, and you’re playing by some other rules that you believe are the proper rules, but they may actually be the rules to Twister. Because you don’t understand the game, you’re twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to win Twister while your colleague is calmly putting hotels on Boardwalk and collecting all the rewards that go with it.

That’s where the wisdom of Berra’s saying comes in . . . Nothing is like it seems. Yet it is what it is. You can continue to operate based on what you think the rules are or what you think they should be, or you can take a step back, see the dynamic of what’s really going on at your work, and base your actions on what is.

On the Topic of Corporate “Playahs”

Another reason why some people have a hard time viewing work as a game is thanks to the “playahs” who exist in many workplaces. People who don’t seem to work as hard yet reap the rewards. Some people rise within organizations by manipulating those around them.

But others rise quickly for another reason that the rest of us should sit up and take note of: They simply understand the rules of the game of work. They show up equipped. They show up pre-trained. They show up ready to play, rather than struggling to understand. Sometimes they may work shorter hours, but there’s nothing wrong with that. They work for impact.

After all, isn’t a baseball game won in the regulation nine innings as much of a win as a game that is won in extra innings? That’s why some of the highest-paid players in baseball are the so-called “closers” – the pitchers who are called into the game at critical times such as when the bases are loaded. They may only throw a pitch or two, but if they prevent the opposing team from scoring, that small effort may have more impact on the game’s outcome than any other player on the team.

Here’s your take-away: Step back from your work situation so you can see the bigger picture. Look for the leverage point where you apply your effort where it can have the biggest impact with the least effort rather than just going through the same old routine to get the same old outcome.

With these small changes to the "rules" you operate by, you will find that you will put more wins in your column in the "game" of work!


This is an excerpt from Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms available in paperback and e-book formats wherever books are sold. 


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.