Tony DeMeo


The Joe DiMaggio Rule

“Just because he makes it look easy, doesn’t make it easy.”

As the baseball season begins my thoughts went to my Dad who was a great baseball fan and his favorite player was The Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio was much more than stats, he was about an elegant style and almost effortless grace. He was the definition making greatness look easy. Here’s the rest of the story.

The following is a short excerpt from my book: Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders. It features close to 100 of these types of rules that every leader can find helpful. The book is available on Amazon.com and signed copies are available on my website.

Enjoy this excerpt:
Joe DiMaggio was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He transcended baseball by being a hero at a time when America needed a hero the most. The country was just coming out of the grip of the Great Depression and hurtling into the horrors of World War II. We needed a hero and DiMaggio obliged. He was more than his statistics, which although impressive, were not overwhelming like Babe Ruth’s. He was about style and grace. He was the Yankee Clipper and an immortal straight out of mythology; almost a god to every Italian-American. He had class, a quality near impossible to define but also impossible to miss.

He personified winning. During his 13 years with the Yankees, the Bronx Bombers won an unprecedented 9 World Series. Joe D was also a three time Most Valuable Player award winner and a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. But the record that many say will never be broken was his 56 game hitting streak. Hitting in 56 straight games moved DiMaggio into a league of his own. Even Ernest Hemingway referred to him “the great DiMaggio” in his classic book The Old Man and the Sea.
DiMaggio was not only a great player but he made it look easy. He played with a graceful style that made it seem effortless. But it wasn’t. It took endless practice and effort to give the appearance of effortlessness. Because it looked easy didn’t make it easy. As a leader, don’t be misled; a great performance is difficult to achieve. As someone said “It took me a lifetime to become an overnight success”. DiMaggio inspired his teammates by how hard he played every day. Someone asked him one time, “Joe the pennant is clinched why are you playing so hard?” Joe answered “Because there may be someone out there today that never saw me play and I want him to see me at my best.”
The opposite of DiMaggio is the guy who makes the simplest task look hard. You all know the squeaky wheels who are always complaining about how hard their job is or how tired they are. These guys are not the guys who are not going to lead you to the promise land. These people are about activity not achievement.

The Joe DiMaggio Rule is essential for producing championship performances and elevating your organization to the next level. Here are some tips that will help:

1. When someone seems to do things effortlessly; he has put in a lot of work to achieve that level of grace. Find out what their secret is. Larry Bird was considered a natural free throw shooter but few knew he shot 500 free throws every day.

2. When someone accomplishes a difficult task with seemingly little stress and strain; don’t under-value the difficulty of the task and assume that anyone could have done it. Instead reward the performance and appreciate the performer.

3. Build your team with winners not whiners. Those that that make the simple complex and the easy hard must be weeded out. You need people who just do their best every day.

4. “Naturals” work hard to look like a natural. Work hard at your trade so it becomes second nature and you look like a “natural”. Our society is enamored with the notion that some are born leaders or natural athletes. This is pure myth. It takes a lot of hard work to be a natural.

5. A big game performer is the guy who plays big in every game. Joltin’ Joe was used to giving his all in every game so he didn’t have to try to ramp it up for a big game. The concept of winning every day is critical to raising the standard of an organization because it fosters a consistency of excellence.

6. Joe DiMaggio became an American Icon not by show-boating, or calling attention to himself but by simply being excellent every day in every way. Greatness is tough to overlook and class is easy to see.

Joe DiMaggio retired from baseball because “he couldn’t play like Joe DiMaggio.” When someone has a standard of excellence that he can no longer attain; it’s time to go.