Podcast #10: An Interview with Jeremy Affeldt

Today’s post is actually a podcast. Every few weeks we offer a podcast covering a relevant topic for those who care about students, or one that contains a guest interview. In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we discussed the future of education.

In today’s podcast, I interview Jeremy Affeldt, relief pitcher for the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Jeremy is not only a stellar pitcher (who’s been a professional for over a decade) but one who’s accomplished a dream only a few baseball players realize. He has been on three World Series’ teams, and has helped to win two of them.

As a relief pitcher, Jeremy must be ready at any moment to come in and perform; to deliver for his team. In this recording, he tells his story about how he almost threw in the towel a few years ago when he thought his career was over. Then—he learned how to re-invent himself, and bounce back. Jeremy shares the greatest secret to developing resilience in a young person and challenges those listening to apply the principle as well.  Enjoy this podcast and pass it on.


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Episode Summary

You’ve been on some winning teams. What enables you and your team to win when it counts?

  • Understanding what your good at and being selfless with your teammates. Recognizing the skill set you’ve been given and how that plays into the bigger picture of your team winning. Our teammates aren’t trying to be all 25 guys or play all 9 positions, but we have a skill we’ve been given and we hone those specific skills to become good in our area.
  • I’ve been able to help players think about developing character and seeing what they are good at and that has brought some things out of players that may not have come out earlier, which has led to some of our success.

Talk to us about overcoming adversity and developing resilience? How have you grown and re-invented yourself?

  • I was having a great spring training, but had one particular bad game that led to frustration. My GM pulled me aside and told me to not let my past failures get in the way of my future success. The GM told me to not worry about failing. If you worry about failing, you will fail. Instead, think about succeeding or what it would be like if you did succeed. I took that new approach with a change in a few mechanics and had the best year of my career! 
  • “Learning to fail is how you learn to succeed”

As a relief pitcher, you have to be ready at all moments – like Pop Quiz. How do you prepare and be ready for that moment?

  • It’s all preparation. When unexpected things come along, you always have something to fall back on. There are going to be things you can control (controllable) and things you can’t (uncontrollable). In these moments, cast aside the uncontrollable and focus on the controllable. By doing that, most of the time you are going to come through being successful.

As you look back, if you could give your younger-self some advice, what would that be?

  • HAVE PATIENCE. Don’t try to make things happen that aren’t going to happen.
  • FOCUS. Understanding there are controllable/uncontrollable things in life. And focusing on the controllable and not letting the uncontrollable make you worry unnecessarily.

You’ve experienced great success in baseball, but baseball isn’t your life. How have you developed this perspective?

  • “What I do” and “who I am” are different. My identity is not found in baseball. This allows the successes and failures that come with baseball not to dictate my life.
  • Very few people are going to remember my individual baseball statistics, but they are going to remember how I changed their life.
  • Its all about using your platform to help others!


1. National Leadership Forum – Sign up today at nationalleadershipforum.org. This year’s theme is Marching Off the Map: Charting the Course for the Next Decade of Student Development. We would love for you to join us, as we discuss the future of education.

2. Check out Growing Leaders. If you’re new to the podcast or blog, visit our website to learn more about the resources Growing Leaders offers to equip those who lead the next generation.

What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment.

Podcast #10: An Interview with Jeremy Affeldt