A friend of mine who follows the blog sent me an e-mail on Friday to let me know that today would be a special day on the calendar.  August 9, 2010.   8 . . . 9 . . . 10.  He suggested that I write a blog to commemorate the day.  I will give it a swing.

As long as I am swinging and it is baseball season I thought I would take the opportunity to look at the three greatest players who ever wore the numbers 8, 9, and 10 and give you a leadership principle from each guys career.

#8 – Cal Ripken Jr.

Cal owns one of the best numbers in the history of sports. 2,632.  That is the number of consecutive games he played during his career for the Baltimore Orioles.  Cal demonstrated his leadership by being relentless.  He showed up healthy or hurt and he played at a Hall of Fame level every day.

As leaders half the battle is showing up.  Do you bring consistency to your work?  #8 did.  He set the standard for work ethic in his organization for 21 seasons.  Leaders should too.

#9 – Ted Williams

The Boston Red Sox slugger is regarded by many as the best hitter that ever lived.  He won two triple crowns, hit .406 in 1941, and had a lifetime average of .344.  But perhaps his greatest trait was his focus.

The story goes that Williams was hanging out behind a batting cage one day watching a rookie take some swings.  The kid was struggling to hit a curve ball when Williams encouraged him to focus on the stitches on the ball as it left the hand of the pitcher.

The rookie turned to Ted and asked, “You mean you can see the stitches on the ball?” Williams looked at the rookie and said, “Kid, on a good day I can read the commissioners signature.” Now that’s what I call focus.

Where have you lost your focus as a leader?  Are there things that you are spending time on that you are not gifted to do?

Maybe it’s time you aligned your leadership around your talents and strengths.  The place where you “see the stitches.”  #9 did and he became a star.  You can too.

#10 – Lefty Grove

Lefty had a lifetime winning percentage of .680 with 300 wins in his 17 major league seasons.  He was a league MVP, a two time world champion, and a six time all-star.  Lefty is regarded by many as the greatest left handed pitcher in history, behind Warren Spahn.

But the most remarkable thing about old #10 was that he pitched 298 complete games.  He finished what he started.

Finishing the deal is a great trait for a leader.  Is there an area of leadership where you have been procrastinating?  A place where you have been holding back?

Make the decision to be a finisher.  It will make you a better leader.

So there you have it.  8 . . . 9 . . . 10.  A great day to look back at three of the greats of America’s past time and learn about leadership.  And a great day to ask yourself if you are consistent, focused, and committed to finishing what you’ve started.