Inside LaunchStreet business podcast innovation podcast Don Yaeger


Defy Human Nature When you Chase it with Abandon

Ever wonder how “the greats” do it? Me too. That’s why I had motivational speaker, business coach, and 11-time New York Times Best-Selling author Don Yeager on Inside LaunchStreet. He began his career as a writer for The San Antonio Light, and the Dallas Morning News until he became an Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated in 1996, where he worked for over ten years. You’ll appreciate how he defines greatness in a way that actually includes everyday people like you and me. His story about the baseball player, David Ross, isn’t actually about baseball. It’s a story of perseverance, being open to criticism, actually using criticism to move forward, and finding greatness in a totally unexpected way. The story Don shares, I think, is also one we innovators need to pay attention to. There are lessons in there for us as we fight the legacy systems, try to get buy-in, and push forward. We also talk about his book, Greatness and some of the traits of greatness, which aren’t about talent. In fact, it’s about the little things you do every day. He also shared some interesting perspective on why we shouldn’t celebrate our wins for too long; that is actually us, trapped in the past.


Listen now to this episode on Inside LaunchStreet:


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Key Takeaways:

[3:49] You might be surprised to know that Don plays the ukulele. It’s the thing that makes him cool in his kids’ eyes.

[4:49] Don believes greatness is an ideal, the pursuit of something. It’s not something that you can achieve. Tamara questions why you keep doing something if you never achieve your goal.

[6:58] James Bailey, a LaunchStreet listener, submitted the question, how do you identify your aha moments?

[9:08] Can you train yourself to celebrate your wins and wake up the next day in the pursuit of greatness?

[11:33] A great coach will see success if the team collectively improves on a daily basis. It’s not all about winning the Superbowl. It’s about creating change. It’s about doing small things to get there. It’s about a continual progression. Tamara reminds listeners that innovation happens when small changes work to create the big change.

[14:36] What’s the first step to getting past the “if only” and putting myself on the path to change? Don talks about his book, Greatness. He interviewed 2,500 of the greatest sports icons over a 25-year period. The question he asked was, what did you do that set you apart from other people? The most popular answer was that they hated to lose more than they love to win. Failure is the idea that drives most people. You stop making excuses and accept the failure for what it is. The truly great ones have long since stopped making excuses.

[17:20] Tamara talks about the sudden moments of self-sabotage. Oftentimes, not only do we make the excuses after, but even before, so that our failure is validated.

[20:50] The number two answer that came up in the interviews was that successful sports players surrounded themselves with people that were looking to achieve the same success or greater. If you’re surrounded by mediocrity, that’s what you’ll achieve.

[22:44] What does it mean to chase it with abandon? In my space, what does exceptionalism look like? Listen in as Don lays out how to engage in the chase.

[25:53] Tamara points out that you don’t have to be alone in a vacuum. Feedback is so important as you engage. Tamara shares that she is a Crossfit addict. Her goal is to stay in the top 100 in her regional age group. She realized that she doesn’t like to lose and it’s her motivation. Oftentimes, her friends aren’t helping her to achieve her goal.

[29:04] Don talks about visualizing victory. Mentally, put yourself visually in the place to feel success. He talks about Serena Williams and her routine before her tennis match. Successful people understand the value of self-talk. They use adversity as fuel.

[32:05] What things are gained in adversity? The most unappreciated muscle is resilience. You must have a short memory of failure. Human nature means that we sit and wallow in things far too long. We also celebrate success way too long. The key to all of this is to defy human nature. Step away from your past typical habit.

[36:44] Tamara believes that often we don’t deconstruct after we win. In some ways, it’s helpful to treat failure and success the same way.

[37:15] Don’s book, Teammate, is about baseball player David Ross. David was cut from the Cincinnati Reds and recruited by the Red Sox as a third-string catcher. David’s manager called him in and told him that his reputation is that he isn’t a team player and that he wouldn’t be renewed. He began a journey of making himself a great teammate. He went on to win several world series. David Ross learned to become invaluable without ever being valuable.

[43:44] Don had been doing speaking engagements about making teams better. He celebrated employees that were pointed out as being great team members. Many employees commented that they had never been celebrated before. Everything is all about out high performers. Tamara points out that you focus on the pursuit of greatness by taking the actions that you take every single day.

[46:57] How does stepping into greatness bring more innovation to the front?

[49:09] Connect with Don here.

[50:05] Don’s final piece of advice to Inside LaunchStreet listeners to pay attention to your inner circle. Seek out people that could help your mindset grow and flourish. Tamara finds that sometimes it’s the people that make you uncomfortable that can help you move forward. Don will email listeners the digital version of the 16 characteristics of greatness. Simply email Don at Put Inside LaunchStreet in the subject line.

[53:13] Tamara is going to begin seeing greatness as a daily pursuit instead of the end goal. She challenges listeners to think about what you are in pursuit of. She invites you to share your pursuit.


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