See It: Moneyball

Brad Pitt‘s character, Billy Beane, in the movie Moneyball, reminds me a little of my dad. Like me, my dad is a Detroit sports fan. But, when it comes to watching the teams he supports on television, he just can’t do it. Unlike Billy, he is okay with watching live games. But, for some reason he just can’t sit still in his easy chair — at home — and watch. He says his nerves get shot from all the anxiety surrounding the outcome of the games.

When I selected this movie, I had that movie Hoosiers playing in my head. Remember that one about the underdog high school basketball team, starring Gene Hackman. It is one of my favorites because it is a great story about how a coach brings a dysfunctional, losing  team to greatness.

While Moneyball followed a similar storyline, what I gained from watching was a better appreciation for what it takes to be a great leader. Through Pitt’s performance I noted three reasons Beane is such a great example to those striving for success. He takes risks, cuts through the chase, and keeps the faith in his beliefs.

I’m sure most would agree with me, it is not easy to

take risks due to fear of the unknown and fear of failure. The outcome from any decision — even those that carry little risk — can be disastrous. But, without taking situations stagnate or decline; nothing improves because nothing changes. Beane succeeded because he took risks with hiring undervalued — but talented — players to replace all-star, celebrated performers. He knew these decisions could have ended his career. But, he needed to win baseball games. And, if he wasn’t going to do what was required to win, what was the point in continuing as general manager of the Oakland A’s?

cut through the chase because taking swift, decisive action requires a tough skin. One can’t be fearful of ruffling feathers or hurting feelings.  Beane knew all-star players from his team needed to be traded or sent back down to the minors. Making these changes to the team’s roster challenged his relationships with other Oakland A leaders and with the players. But, he had a job to do. He had to win baseball games; and he traded and dismissed in order win. Business is business.

keep the faith in your beliefs because outside influences challenge them constantly. Even those whom we consider to be close, trustworthy, and knowledgeable can get us on a path to second-guessing our choices. It is important to listen to and consider opposing viewpoints because the intent is to help; and sometimes there is value to the insight. But, there are times when one has to continue listening to that inner voice and to trust in one’s own knowledge and ability. Beane stayed the course. The result: The Oakland A’s won baseball games; lots of baseball game; and the Red Sox wanted to hire him so they could reap the same success.

So, on that note, the Detroit Tigers face the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day at Comerica Park, next week on April 5. Go Tigers!

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