16 Desirable Mental Approaches for Entrepreneurial Success

Humor me, as I recall a great sports metaphor for business.

The greatest switch-hitting slugger in baseball history – Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle – was at his best in clutch World Series action.

He set several World Series records – 18 home runs, 40 RBIs, 42 walks, 26 extra-base hits and 123 total bases. Before the term “walk-0ff home run” was used, he had 13 game-winning homers.

With all due respect to Willie Mays and his fans, the Yankee great was baseball’s most-feared player. From 1955 t0 1964, he was the fastest and most-powerful perfomer of his time. There were no steroids.

Yet he admitted to having fear, which he often used as a great motivator.

His hero was his father who taught him the game, but died at the age of 39, just after the Mick made it to the major leagues. He always feared dying at an early age, too. So he played hard on and off the field.

No pitcher could repeatedly dominate him. When he connected, he hit the ball so hard, you could see the red laces. I did. In game four of the 1963 World Series, my brother and I were in the left-field stands at Dodger Stadium. In the 7th inning, I could see the red laces just before we were almost struck by his screaming line-drive off another favorite of mine – the legendary Sandy Koufax.

No. 7 had his share of strikeouts, but my recollection was that he was rarely caught looking at a called strike three. If he did, it was simply a case of the umpire forgetting to wear glasses. He was not afraid to swing at the first pitch. He didn’t cheat himself. He swung hard. When he spotted a strategic opportunity by not swinging for the fences, he took it – he also a terrific drag-bunter, even in his later years.

By the 1964 World Series, pitting the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees, The Mick’s legendary skills had faded. He shouldn’t have been playing. With a bad shoulder, he no longer had the ability to make laser-like throws from center field. The kid from a rural town in Oklahoma, “the Commerce comet,” was no longer baseball’s fastest runner to first.

Underdogs become successful entrepreneurs by creating a competitive edge. Success in entrepreneurship results from strong mental approaches.

Down, but not done

In 1966, he still commanded ultimate respect – published reports indicate other major leaguers still stopped to marvel in reverence at his swings in batting practice – he could still muster the strength to hit his patented monster shots. His mere presence was awe-inspiring. I felt it at the ballpark. Months in advance, I once elected to forgo a Junior-Senior Prom in high school in favor of driving with a buddy 125 miles to attend an Angel-Yankee game. It was a risk as No. 7 as injured. I watched his every move in the dugout and prayed to see him play that day. Without him in the lineup, the legendary Yankee teams weren’t nearly as good.

My favorite of his seasons is still 1964 — his last terrific year, which most of today’s players would have envied. Relying on his experience and courage with a bad knee and right shoulder, he led the American League in on-base percentage with 35 home runs and 111 RBIs. He had batted .241 left-handed, and a stellar .421 right-handed.

In that season’s fall classic in game three at Yankee Stadium with more than 67,000 fans on hand, he had been switched to right field, and Roger Maris took his place in center. The Mick was slow and hurting. In the 5th inning, the Cardinals tied the game at 1-1 when the ball skipped through No. 7’s legs. Oh, no! It was an embarrassing tragedy for the proud baseball player. As a young, passionate Mantle fan watching on television, my heart was broken.

But his chance for redemption came in the bottom of the 9th. For a strategic edge, the Cardinals brought in a veteran right-hand reliever, knuckle-baller Barney Schultz, who had a 1.65 ERA that year. As the leadoff hitter, a shell of his former self, The Mick was forced to bat from his weakest, left-hitting side.

The first pitch was low and outside. The Mick swung – an explosive, towering shot to the third deck in right field, and the sellout crowd went crazy. My eyes filled with tears.

Fear as a motivator

The next day, the Los Angeles Times headline: “Mantle: I was scared to death.”

Years later, I learned the Mick had used fear as a motivator. He describes how he actually predicted his game-winner:

The Yankees’ starting pitcher, Jim Bouton, confirmed the story – he overheard the Mick pump himself up: “I’m gonna hit one outta here.”

That was a method of imaging self-success. I never forgot the lesson from the slugger’s self-motivation process for high performance.

Like many baseball players, in today’s marketplace, most entrepreneurs already have the basic attributes in knowledge and talent. But it’s possible to enhance performance.

Underdogs become successful entrepreneurs by creating a competitive edge. Success in entrepreneurship results from strong mental approaches.

Here’s a checklist:

  1. Practice imagery. Envision success. Overcome fear. Don’t let it intimidate you. Don’t procrastinate.
  2. Think as a maverick – with independence. Strong entrepreneurs listen to others, but they don’t obsess about what others think, especially if there’s disagreement.
  3. Passion. You must love the game.
  4. Trustworthy leadership. Others are confident in your consistent performance.
  5. Values. Do not compromise on principles.
  6. Flexibility. Have a game plan, but be prepared to alter it.
  7. Timeliness. Sometimes what you do is as important as picking the right time to do it.
  8. Stewardship. Be a good steward of your health and business. Work hard but know how to be resilient and nourish your mind and body. Continually evaluate and work for improvements.
  9. Be frugal. Don’t waste money, but invest it to create opportunities for growth.
  10. Have faith. Be confident in your abilities.
  11. Don’t be defensive. If you make a mistake, flaunt it. But prepare for opportunities to redeem yourself. You’ll get a 9th inning like No. 7.
  12. Keep an open mind. Just because something is outside your comfort zone, consider taking educated risks.
  13. Find a good mentor. Seek someone successful in ways you want to become. Pass it on later when you get the chance.
  14. Keep it light when possible. Have fun. Enjoy business and life with a sense of humor.
  15. Be charitable. There’s always a worthy cause or people who deserve your consideration.
  16. Celebrate your victories with style. Mickey Mantle always lowered his head after a home run. He never taunted the pitcher. He acted like he’d accomplished the feat before.  

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s another fan’s tribute:

“I hated to bat against (Don) Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?’”

Mickey Mantle


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.