Leadership Wit and Wisdom from Yogi Berra


When you come to a fork in the road, take it! – Yogi Berra

We recently lost one of baseball’s most beloved icons – Yogi Berra. The former New York Yankee catcher was the consummate ambassador of the game long after his playing days ended.

Known for his quick wit and humor, his quotes have inspired and entertained us for decades. In tribute to Yogi Berra and his many infamous quotes, I’d like to share my ten favorite and how they can inspire the leader in you.


“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”

Decision-making for leaders is very important. And while Robert Frost may have been more poetic in his observation of the road not taken, Yogi’s philosophy was more proactive – take it. There comes a point in time for every leader when every possibility and contingency is taken into account and you have to act. Just do it.

“Slump? I ain’t in no slump…I just ain’t hitting”

Perspective in leadership paramount to your success. Every successful leader has periods of time when he or she just may not be clicking on all cylinders. Everyone experiences setbacks and times when the wind is not at your back. It’s important to remember that slumps will pass and to overcome you have to dig in your heels and press on. It will pass.

“I’d rather be the Yankee catcher than the President”

When you do what you love and love what you do then there is nothing else that will satisfy and no other occupation to be envious of. Discovering your “one thing” and passion is the most rewarding thing you will do. And wherever journey that may take you, there you will find great contentment.

“If people don’t want to come out to the park, nobody’s going to stop them”

One of the hardest and most important things to learn as a leader is that not everyone will take the journey with you – and not everyone should. If people are not willing or capable of embracing your vision and the direction you are going then you can’t stop them from not coming along. And that is okay. Go forward without them.

“You can observe a lot just by watching”

A smart leader pays attention to his or her surroundings. You can learn a lot about your people and your organizational structure just by observing. Perhaps a good rule of thumb would be to talk less, listen more, and keep your eyes open.

“We made too many wrong mistakes”

We all make mistakes. Making too many wrong ones will do you in. Sometimes we can stumble upon success in spite of ourselves. The old adage in sports is that the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins. Learning from our mistakes is the key to our success. Avoid making too many of the wrong mistakes and in time you will be fine.

“The future ain’t what it used to be’

Change is the constant of life. As leaders it is imperative to understand change and how to be out in front of it. You will either be prepared for change or a victim of it. But make no mistake – change is inevitable. Smart leaders are early adapters and ahead of the curve. The future ain’t what it used to be so you best be ready for it.

“It ain’t over til it’s over”

Optimism is a key characteristic for every leader. Having a positive attitude will propel you in the good times and sustain you in the bad. You are not exempt from the challenges that come from being a leader but you do choose how you will face them. Regardless of how bad things may look, it ain’t over til it’s over. Don’t give up.

“He’s learning me all his experience”

Every leader needs a good coach or mentor. We don’t start out with all of the real-world experience and wisdom we need. Just as a ball player needs a coach to be successful on the playing field, leaders need coaches who can impart their wisdom and experience. Perhaps you are at the stage where you should be the coach or mentor to someone starting out. The simple truth is this- smart leaders are always learning and gracious enough to share what they know.

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours”

Leaders understand the power of relationships. People are your most appreciable asset as a leader and how you treat people is imperative. Never waste an opportunity to give a complement or practice a random act of kindness. How you treat others is a testament to your leadership and at the end of the day – it’s all about people.

Thank you Yogi Berra for your example and making our world just a little nicer place.


© 2015 Doug Dickerson



About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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One Response to Leadership Wit and Wisdom from Yogi Berra

  1. Peter says:

    Some useful, perspicuous points.
    My comments:
    * don’t make too many wrong mistakes. Whilst that is evident, I don’t believe it is useful to give that advice to someone. Nobody likes to make mistakes, but making mistakes is an essential part of learning. Telling someone not to make the wrong mistakes will make them nervous & averse to make any mistakes at all.
    * it ain’t over till it’s over. Another way I like to express this: you haven’t got it till you’ve got it 🙂

    Keep the posts coming Doug, they’re good food for thought.


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