Eat, Drink, and Be Glad – A Leadership Lesson from Bruce Bochy

Bruce Bochy is the Manager of the San Francisco Giants. He lead his team to win the World Series in 2010, and last night, he lead his 2012 team to do it all over again.

I’ve been following the Giants all season long. I’m particularly interested in Bochy’s leadership, so I’ve been watching carefully through the lenses of a learner during 2012.

One story really sticks out to me.


At the July 2012 MLB All-Star Game, a Giants outfielder named Melky Cabrera made a huge splash. He was not only voted in (by the fans) to start in left field, but he ended up winning the MVP of the Game. It was a magical night for Cabrera.

One month later, on Wednesday August 15, the sports world received the shocking news that Cabrera had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s).  He admitted using a banned substance and accepted the 50-game suspension. At the time, he had a major league-leading 159 hits and was second in the NL with a .346 batting average.

He left the Giants clubhouse without addressing the team. His reasoning doesn’t matter.

The only thing that matters now is how the Giants Manager – Bruce Bochy – would respond. He would face the media, and he would communicate the need to “put this behind us” and to “move on from here”. He would express his own shock. His team would take the field that day against the Washington Nationals, and get beat. Clearly, the Giants were in no shape to play on that Wednesday.

On Friday of that week, the Giants traveled to San Diego, where they swept the Padres. In the seven weeks that remained in the regular season, the Giants ran away with the National League West.  The Giants became a better team AFTER they lost their offensive rock star. So my question is a simple one.

What happened on Thursday, August 16?


Between the Wednesday announcement and 50-game suspension, and the new beginning that Friday, there was a Thursday when the Giants didn’t play. What happened on that day? You’ll find the answer buried in some local blogs and newspapers, but you’ll really have to search for it. I heard the news on a Giants radio broadcast, as a side-story – an “oh, by the way” thing. No national news reported on it.

On Thursday August 16, Bruce Bochy cancelled practice, and invited his entire team to his house for a BBQ.

It wasn’t a meeting. It wasn’t a strategy session. There’s some question as to whether or not Bochy even addressed the team at all. He simply cooked them all dinner, allowing them to sit together and just be normal. We don’t know what they ate or drank, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter.


As leaders, we’re always dreaming and strategizing and vision-casting and planning and evaluating and mapping and preparing and organizing and arranging and designing and projecting and aiming and targeting and representing and goal-setting and programming and measuring and reporting. None of this is wrong or bad or evil.

But in the middle of all that stuff, sometimes the Teams we lead simply need to be together.

As a community.

With no agenda.

With no expectations.

So the next time you find your business or church or non-profit in a tough spot, the answer may be to have a series of strategy meetings to formulate a plan to get out of it. I’m quite sure that these things will be needed.

But the foundational answer may lie in getting everyone together, and simply having a meal together, with no expectations and no agenda.

At the end of his life, Solomon concluded (Ecclesiastes 8:15 CEB) -

So I commend enjoyment because there’s nothing better for people to do under the sun but to eat, drink, and be glad. This is what will accompany them in their hard work, during the lifetime that God gives under the sun.

We’ve got the “hard work” part of that verse nailed. But a great leader will also help his or her teams learn to eat, drink, and be glad in the middle of the insecurity that accompanies any good effort.

Bruce Bochy proves it.


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  • Jason Vana

    Powerful reminder, Gary, and something I’ve been challenged to do with my team more often!

    • Gary Molander

      Yes. I really wanna be better at this!

  • Larry Hehn

    My wife reminds me of this. While my love language is acts of service, hers is quality time. I’m learning that we don’t always need to be *doing* things to be effective. Sometimes we just need to *be* together. Great observation!

    • Gary Molander

      Larry – That’s so cool. Appreciate the way you’ve framed this illustration. GM.

  • fmckinnon

    Great post, Gary — oddly enough, about a month ago, our Family Pastor initiated a mandatory “fun time” w/ the staff every Wed at 3:30 – we play games, eat, hang out … it’s been a blast. And “community” is a big part of what “Refuge” is all about, another reason I’m so glad you’re coming.