Mariano Rivera recently retired as one of the most beloved baseball players of all time. An amazing closer for the New York Yankees, Rivera was quiet, humble and genuine about his love for the game of baseball. During interviews, in the way he conducted himself on the mound, and everything else he did on and off the field made you believe—without a doubt—that he loved the game of baseball.
And Mariano kept this passion alive for an astounding 19 years.
A phenomenal player and maybe even better teammate, he's exactly the kind of person you want to root for. A few months ago, the sports world witnessed one of its most memorable and touching farewells to date.
After Mariano pitched the final innings of his last home game, two of his teammates came to the mound to “relieve” him. Yankee stadium erupted with cheers and chanted “Mar-i-an-o! Mar-i-an-o!” while Rivera stood on the mound for the last time and wept on the shoulders of his friends. (You can watch the entire thing here.)
I’m not a Yankees fan by any stretch, but my eyes started watering while watching the scene unfold. Deep down, we want to root for people like this—people who genuinely love their craft so much that they openly weep because they won’t be doing it anymore.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Miley Cyrus.
Cyrus has gone from child Disney star, Hannah Montana, to pop’s latest bad girl in just a few years. Musical styles can change, but it’s more than that with Cyrus. It seems that in a blink, she’s changed her entire value system (as well as her musical style) right in front of our eyes.
I don’t know Cyrus personally, but from an outside perspective, it feels like she’s trying to shift her persona to whatever will keep her in the limelight. This type of sudden change doesn't give the impression that she’s genuine about her profession. It feels more like she’s just changing with the winds. Interviews, performances, music videos … they’re all furthering this new rebel image.
It feels forced.
And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? If I’m a business owner (or athlete or pop star), at the end of the day I’m interested in how my customers perceive me. That’s how you sell records or cars or french fries. If you’re perceived as a business that's changing it’s value system to stay “on top” and in the spotlight, you won’t be there very long. It feels desperate, and customers quickly stop trusting you.
You build long-term loyalty by showing up every day, every year, building upon a solid foundation of putting your customers (or fans) first. Your product might shift a bit, and you might try new avenues over time. But your core principles and what defines you doesn’t change.
Just like Mariano Rivera, who will go down as one of the most beloved Yankees of all time. He quietly went about his business at becoming the best at what he did. And fans loved him for it.
There’s something powerful about genuinely doing what you love doing that naturally draws people to your business.
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