Success

At 8, Derek Jeter knew he wanted to play for the Yankees—here's how he made it happen

Derek Jeter
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When Derek Jeter was 8, he walked into his parents' bedroom (the were in their pajamas) and told them he wanted to be a Yankee, he writes in his 2000 memoir, "The Life You Imagine."

"Most people thought I really was foolishly dreaming to think that I could be a major leaguer, but my parents didn't," Jeter writes. They sat him down and told him that he could do anything he wanted in life, if he worked hard enough and stayed dedicated.

On Tuesday, Jeter, who played with New York Yankees for 20 years and won five World Series titles, was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He came within one vote of being a unanimous pick for the Hall of Fame election.

After that day when he was 8, Jeter says, his parents — Charles, a substance abuse counselor, and Dorothy, an accountant, from the small town of Pequannock Township, New Jersey — were committed to helping Jeter make his dreams a reality.

The biggest thing his parents did for him, according to his book, was teach him that being a successful player was about more than just what happens on the field.

"They told me that I couldn't just be a good baseball player. I had to work hard, take care of my body with proper diet and rest, and do well in everything. They told me that I have to have the mind-set that I wanted to be the best in everything," he writes.

"For me, the dream of being a baseball player [was] a daily challenge," writes Jeter, "not only living that dream but ensuring that it stay[ed] alive."

In his book, Jeter says he learned there's a 10-step process to success, one that helps you get "from point A to point B in life," no matter your age or your goals.

"The lessons I talk about here transcend baseball. These steps are about life and getting what you want in life," Jeter, who retired in 2014, writes. He got what he "always wanted, and part of the reason why is because I had a plan for getting here."

Here are Jeter's 10 steps for achieving success.

1. Set your goals high

Jeter says to be successful, you must always set your goals high even the dream seems out of reach at the moment.

"It all starts with setting goals—we all need them. Whether your goal is to play for the Yankees or to win the pie-eating contest at summer camp, goals are what motivate us to do better. My ultimate dream was to play major-league baseball, but I had smaller goals along the way," Jeter writes.

For instance, Jeter set the goal of making the Little League All-Star team, and then starting on the high school varsity team as a freshman, making all-district and so on.

2. Deal with growing pains

Right out of high school at 18, Jeter signed a professional contract with the Class A Tampa Rookie Team. His first week, he failed to get a hit in his first 14 at bats. He questioned his decision to sign with the pros instead of attending the University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship, according to his book.

"I hadn't imagined that I'd wind up crying in my hotel room night after after because I was playing so poorly," Jeter writes.

But as much as struggled with the adjustment, he knew he had to push forward if he wanted to one day be a Yankee.

"It wasn't easy. There will definitely be times when pursuing your goals won't be easy, either...," he writes.

3. Find the right role models

While Jeter says his parents were his first role models, he had many over the years.

"If I saw someone doing something that I really wanted to be able to do, I'd analyze him until I figured out the proper way to do it, too," he writes.

For example, during Jeter's second season with the Yankees, Luis Sojo, a former player for the Seattle Mariners, taught him a better way to turn double plays, Jeter writes. (Sojo taught him to stay behind the base, which safer place for an infielder, instead of jumping over the approaching runner, which Jeter liked to do.)

"I was amazed at how much easier it made the play, and for those few days that Luis worked on this with me, this fielding magician was my role model," he writes.

Jeter says there are role models are everywhere and its important to seek them out and ask questions. They don't even need to be super successful — each one should just have something about them that you admire and can learn from.

4. Help others

Jeter says his parents were "always lecturing him about helping people," and that giving back is essential in anyone's pursuit of success.

His mom taught him that, "if you have a little, you give a little back. If you have a lot, you give a lot back." It is one of the reasons, Jeter created Turn 2 Foundation in 1996 to help teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction.

He says the philosophy has helped him stayed focused and humble throughout his career.

5. Don't be afraid to fail

Jeter says failure is essential for success (so does Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos). To reach your goals, you will need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and take risks, says Jeter, and with risk comes some failure. But you should also expect that you will succeed.

"I don't succeed every time. But I can honestly tell you that I go into every game thinking I'm going to be the hero that night. I have to, or I wouldn't enjoy it so much," Jeter writes. "It's really a great approach. Believe that you're going to get an A on a test, believe that you're going to get accepted to your first college choice, believe that you're going to get that dream job. Believe in yourself and you'll be closer to actually succeeding."

6. Have a strong support system

"Surround yourself with good people. People who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests," Jeter writes.

He says surrounding yourself with "good, goal-oriented people" is critical.

"You can find them. They'll be the ones studying that extra in the library, taking some extra grounders when practice is done, or working at a part-time job in addition to going to school. Those are some of the signs of achievers. Those are the people who impressed me, the people I wanted to be like and wanted to be around."

Jeter says in addition to his parents' support, his longtime coach Joe Torre and Yankee's owner George Steinbrenner were essential in helping him thrive throughout his time with the Yankees. Both men believed in him, which helped him to continue to push himself to achieve more each year.

7. Be serious, but have fun

To achieve success, you must work on your skills every day. Jeter says he would spend hours at the batting cage working on his swing.

"There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do – and I believe that.''

But Jeter believes that you must pursue something that you truly love and enjoy doing in order to reach success.

"Baseball is fun for me. I don't overanalyze it and I don't sit around and think about every detail so much that I can mess myself up. I'm not saying I'm not prepared, because I am. But I don't let myself because crazed obsessed in anticipation of what might happen. I just let it happen."

8. Think before you act

Throughout his career, Jeter says he has seen a lot of players come to New York and "get caught up in the lifestyle, and before you know it, they're sent away to another team because it affected their performance."

Jeter says its important to stay 100% focused and think about the consequences of your actions before you act.

9. Be a leader and follow the leader

Jeter writes that it's essential to do both throughout one's career because it keeps you strong and humble.

Jeter says he always liked being a leader who leads by example, he also learned to watch other people whom he respected and learn from their actions.

"I often think the smartest person in the room is the person who isn't saying a word. He listens to everything, soaks it in, and gets smarter while everybody else is too busy listening to themselves speak."

Jeter says he followed in the footsteps of his idol, former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, who was the first active athlete to establish a charitable foundation to help underprivileged youth and families in need.

10. Life is a daily challenge

Jeter says no matter where you are in the process of reaching your goal, you will be met with challenges every day. There will be good days and bad days, so it is essential to focus.

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