Advice from St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny

Brendan Barlow – 

Last week, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes event at the University of Illinois-Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium. His words offered encouragement to those who were in attendance.

In the midst of Coach Matheny’s testimony of his Christian walk, he shared some inspiration from the platform he’d been given in the form of an acronym that he uses with the Cardinals, but first he noted that all of us need to have our priorities lined up before we can consider taking action. He said we must realize what we work for, prioritize, and then continually examine our lives to make sure “the picture and words match up.”

The acronym is EDGE: Education, Discipline, Grit, and Energy.

Education: High level achievers create and maintain a mindset of perpetual learning. This culture refers to teams, but it can apply to us as individuals, too. When Matheny first got the job in St. Louis, he asked former (legendary) Cardinals manager Tony La Russa for help. La Russa said “Learn something new every day.” We must be persistent and intentional, with a learner’s mindset in every area of life- “not just x’s and o’s.”

Discipline: You reap what you sow. Matheny said that at Spring Training he tells all the young guys trying to make the big league roster one thing: “Get here early, stay late, represent us, do the right thing.” He asked the audience at UIS, (and I forward the question to all of us) “How far are we willing to go to do the right thing?”

Grit: Going one step further than the other guy. Matheny said we ought to strive for meekness, not weakness, which is strength under control. Grit is a choice. Choose grit. Be tough.

Energy: If you don’t have it, fake it. If you have trouble faking it, go get encouragement. “Purposeful optimism is a force multiplier,” said Matheny. And the opposite is true. Don’t be an Eeyore. “It’s greater to give than to receive.” Set the tone for yourself and others.

The truly powerful ideas to live by are simple ones. This is the perfect time, at the beginning of the semester, to build a foundation for the rest of the spring and the rest of our lives. We should remember, as author Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” Nothing worth doing right is easy. Choose the narrow way.

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