"It's important how you deal with your failures. Don't point the finger at a third person for the reason of failure, but ask yourself what was lacking on your part. These were the first words which Ichiro told Akio when they first met in 2014.
“It's important how you deal with your failures. Don't point the finger at a third person for the reason of failure, but ask yourself what was lacking on your part. With that in mind, I never neglect to polish my baseball bats and gloves. I do this to direct the cause of the problem to myself, and not my tools.”
Winter of 2014
These are the words I heard when I first met Ichiro. A little later, I received a gift from Ichiro. It was a practice bat that Ichiro used in his training. The marks from the practice balls he hit and the non-slip resin remain intact. I thought it was just like Ichiro to have labeled it “for practice,” instead of “for a match.” This was a bat that supported Ichiro through his many challenges and failures.
Within this bat was a message from Ichiro to “take responsibility for your own failures.” As I took the bat in my hand, I remembered the congressional hearing in the U.S. On my way to the hearing that day I had sworn something to myself. That was:
“I want to protect Toyota, which I love, no matter the cost. To do so, I will not blame anyone else. I will take all responsibility for the past, present, and future.”
After making this promise to myself, I went to the hearing. As I stepped into the batter box, I was prepared to commit everything.
At a Tokyo Motor Show, Ichiro said: “Toyota and I (Ichiro) are very similar.” I think so, too.
In speaking with Ichiro, I have come to realize that he was explaining the same exact kinds of things as I was thinking. Ichiro, as you may know, achieved a legendary record of 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball.
“In the moment this record was achieved, so many teammates and fans were overjoyed. It was a moment that reminded me that it was more important that someone other than me was now happy for something that I had accomplished, rather than just the number 3,000.”
I heard his comments and could see tears welling in his eyes, and was reminded once again about my experience at the congressional hearing. Following the hearing on that fateful day, I met with people from our dealers and plants who had rushed to lend support.
“I realized I wasn't alone. I thought that it was just me, by myself, fighting to protect Toyota, but, in fact, I was the one who was being supported and protected.” When I realized that, tears came pouring out. When Ichiro achieved his record, were his tears like this? If so, then I agree and think he is similar to Toyota (or at least Toyoda!).
Congratulations to Ichiro for reaching his 3,000 hits!