Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How best-selling author Jon Acuff's new book explains A-Rod's career "Do Over"

Alex Rodriguez's career renaissance has been nothing short of remarkable. He has 11 homers, 28 RBI, and a slash line of .280/.386/.522 for 2015 -- all great numbers that I don't think any of us, including this Arodologist, saw coming. Now A-Rod is closing in on 3000 hits. Heck, even the "nothing is a milestone" Yankees are now openly promoting his All-Star Game candidacy!
Vote Yankees
This graphic was in an email the Yankees are sending out.
What, Stephen Drew is not #ASGWorthy anymor


I think I have a way of explaining it, though. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff about Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck.

Acuff is who I want to be when I grow up. After 16 years in the business work world, he is living the dream as a full-time author. He writes career books that offer practical, real-life advice in a humorous and compelling way. Acuff is also a really nice guy, too. Click here to read my interview with him for Guideposts.org. I loved talking to him!

Anyhow, in Do Over, he talks about how we all have a toolkit at our disposal called a Career Savings Account. This consists of the following equation: (Relationships plus Skills plus Character) times Hustle equals your Career Savings Account. As Acuff puts it, Relationships are "who you know," skills are "what you do," character is "who you are," and hustle is "how you work."

Acuff says that you need to have that Career Savings Account full, with items in every category, because chances are, each of us will face one or more of these career transitions in our lives. As Acuff writes:
You will hit a Career Ceiling and get stuck, requiring sharp skills to free yourself. You will experience a Career Bump and unexpectedly lose your job, requiring strong relationships to survive. You will make a Career Jump to a new role, requiring solid character to push through uncertainty and chaos. You will get a surprise Career Opportunity, requiring dedicated hustle to take advantage of it.
So, let's talk about how this all matters when it comes to Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. One could argue that this season has really involved three of the four career transitions:
  • Getting suspended for a year is about the ultimate in career bumps! Talk about hitting rock bottom.
  • Alex also had a career jump in that he moved from third base to the designated hitter role. In addition, he has even learned to play a little first base. 
  • The surprise career opportunity was this -- A-Rod wasn't expected to be much of a contributor to this team, and was penciled into the bottom of the lineup for the first few weeks of the season. But he was able to become the No. 3 hitter again, a role that he was no longer expected to play, thanks to his timely hitting.
So how did Rodriguez successfully navigate all of these career transitions? By building upon the skills in his Career Savings Account, especially the two where he had severe deficits:

Relationships: Remember that handwritten apology letter Alex wrote this spring? Skeptics mocked him for doing so, but he has indeed achieved what he promised when it came to mending fences and getting his job back: 
"This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to Spring Training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win."
I am a big fan of Jon Acuff,
and have read most of his books.
A-Rod has also signed a lot of autograph to mend his standing with the fans. He has redoubled his efforts of being a good teammate. He even seems to handle the media much better this year. All of these things have reaped benefits. He is arguably the team's most popular player now, something that was never the case before.

Character: A-Rod wasn't exactly known for his sterling character, but he spent his year away from baseball trying to improve himself. As the ESPN story "The Education of Alex Rodriguez" says, not only did he take a class at the University of Miami, but he spent a lot of time in therapy. And a lot of time trying to understand why he did what he did. 

In addition, notice how much Rodriguez has been the better man, this year, and taken the high road at every turn. No matter what Brian Cashman or Randy Levine or Hal Steinbrenner or media members looking for controversy said, A-Rod has said and done the right thing. By being relentlessly positive and humble and self-deprecating, he has made the people against him look petty in comparison.

Skills: In his career, Rodriguez was never lacking in skills. But there were concerns that he lost them after two hip surgeries and pushing 40. Fortunately, this part of the Career Savings Account is still full. He also added to his skill set by learning first base.

Hustle: Hustle is also a category he has never lacked in. A-Rod showed up early to spring training, to the dismay of the Yankees, and has been like the old Alex this year. 

Anyhow, I think the transformation Rodriguez had made this year is nothing short of remarkable. It is the Yankee equivalent of Matthew McConaughey going from shirtless himbo to Oscar winner! And Acuff's book explains it. If you are looking to make your own career transition, read Do Over. I highly recommend it!

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