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Valuable Career Lessons from a Baseball Controversy

BaseballThe other night, in a mistake heard 'round the sports world, an umpire's incorrect call robbed a pitcher of a place in baseball history. But it's the reactions of the two principals in this drama that offer valuable lessons for job seekers and job holders.

To recap: Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game. (For those of you who don't know, a perfect game is when a pitcher doesn't allow anyone to reach base the entire game. Only 20 have been thrown in Major League Baseball in 130 years.) The batter representing the potential last out slapped a ground ball to the first baseman, who was far off the bag. His throw to Galarraga, who was covering the bag, beat the runner by a half step.

But umpire Jim Joyce called the runner safe, and the boos and anger rained down on him inside Detroit's Comerica Park. It seemed everyone was ticked at Joyce—that is, everyone except Galarraga, the guy who lost the most from that moment. He merely smiled, walked back to the pitcher's mound, and promptly finished the game by retiring the next hitter.

After the game, Joyce looked at video of the play and realized he'd made the wrong call. In an emotional post-game press conference, he admitted his error even though he believed he made the right call at the time. Yesterday, he openly apologized to Galarraga in front of thousands who had turned out to see the next game.

Galarraga provides Lesson Number 1:

There will be disappointments, and times when you'll be treated unfairly. Never let them get the better of you. This is especially true when you're searching for a job and when you're employed. Exhibiting grace and level-headedness can build a strong impression among your current co-workers, and it can do the same in a job interview when, for example, a hiring manager asks about setbacks in your career, or how you handled disappointments or faced pressure situations.

Joyce provides Lesson Number 2:

Don't be afraid to admit your mistakes. We're all human and fallible. Co-workers and hiring managers admire humility, more so if you learn from your errors. If you're interviewing for a job and have to address a past mistake in your career—such as why you were fired or had four jobs in three years—be ready to tell the truth and how you learned from it.

Professional sports has more than its share of unscrupulous people who do things most people wouldn't be proud of. But Galarraga and Joyce exhibited grace and humility under fire. For that, they deserve a standing ovation.

How have you exhibited grace or humility in your career? Share your story below.

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