Leadership

How sports taught Cal Ripken to get past failure

Former Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. has a lot to rest his laurels on, but he has yet to trudge off to a quiet retirement.

Since retiring from Major League Baseball, the "iron man" who played a record 2,632 consecutive games has kept busy with Ripken Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

The first is a collective of youth baseball tournaments and training camps, the other is an outreach program that caters to at-risk youth and teaches positive behavior through baseball and softball. The Hall of Famer said his athletic career prepared him for the trials of managing his businesses.

"It takes a lot of practice and a lot of work. It doesn't happen just by snapping your fingers. I think all athletes are not afraid to work, and not afraid to work incrementally towards something that they aspire to do," Ripken said in an interview with CNBC.

Cal Ripken Jr. stretches to reach a ground ball during a game in 1997
John G. Mabanglo | AFP | Getty Images
Cal Ripken Jr. stretches to reach a ground ball during a game in 1997

Athletes also have to deal with low points constantly, Ripken said.

"Baseball is a game of frustration and failure in many ways. As a hitter, you fail 7 out of 10 times, so you have to figure out how to deal with failure quite a bit, and that's one of the keys to having longer term success," he said.

Ripken added that even when he felt like he'd made it, baseball kept him from getting ahead of himself. He said that after he hit his first home run in the major leagues, he hit only four of the next 63 pitches, he said.

"During that period of time you have to dig down deep inside and prove all over again that you could compete and make it at that level," he said. "The game will keep you humble."

The former Oriole shortstop said that the secret to pulling through rough patches is to love what you do.

"In the end it needs to come from inside you and the day-to-day grind, being able to play, being able to commit ... that comes from your desire to want to be there," he said.

Cal Ripken Jr. demonstrates during a clinic in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 2011
Toru Yamanaka | AFP | Getty Images
Cal Ripken Jr. demonstrates during a clinic in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 2011