Words of Wisdom from the Dugout


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Clint Hurdle is the manager of the Major League baseball Pittsburgh Pirates.  This year, he has guided his team to its first winning season & first playoff appearance since 1992.  None of which would normally get him mentioned here.

However, Hurdle does something which politicians and lawmakers — indeed, everyone in the political-legal arena — would do well to emulate.  He inspires people.

One way he does this, every day, is by issuing a “Thought of the Day”, via his smartphone, to his players, their wives and friends, his friends and others — more than 1000 people around the world.

On September 9th of this year, his team was stuck at 81 wins — one shy of a winning season — and on a 4 game losing streak.  They would be playing the Texas Rangers that night and facing one of the best pitchers in the game.

In anticipation of this game, he sent the following “Thought of the Day”:

Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how, as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick, but a master at verbal intimidation.

Looking Tim in the eye, [Taylor] said, “Sonny, get ready. I’m going left and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Wrightman coolly responded, “Sir, is that your left or mine?”

The question froze Taylor long enough to allow Wrightman to throw a perfect block on him.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish if we refuse to be afraid. Fear — whether it’s of pain, failure or rejection–– is a toxic emotion that creates monsters in our mind that consume self-confidence and intimidate us from doing our best or sometimes even trying at all.

Make a difference today.

Love Clint

The anecdote about Tim Wrightman and Lawrence Taylor is interesting, but is neither the important part of this message nor the motivation for blogging about it.  Rather, it is the last full paragraph that moved me to write this.

Much of what passes for political discourse in the United States today — and what motivates laws and governmental procedures — is fear.  Fear of people:  terrorists, murderers, child molesters, religious zealots, virtually anyone who is perceived to be dangerous — or even just different.  Fear of things:  internationally, nuclear weapons — locally, guns.   Fear of equal rights for all people and of social change.

All too often, people respond to fear by seeking the protection of laws designed to prevent that which is feared.  And our politicians respond to the people by passing such laws, even when they are ineffective or, worse yet, counter-productive.

We seem to have forgotten the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech, “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  We are becoming a nation of sheepish ninnies, fearful and risk-averse.

We readily submit to laws which treat us like children, incapable of making our own decisions (such as the so-called “war on drugs” and the panoply of federal, state and local rules governing what, when and how much we can eat and drink). 

We readily submit to laws and procedures which supposedly make us “safer”, but actually subject us to insult, indignity and embarrassment, as we meekly submit to invasive searches and remove our belts and shoes before entering airport terminals, courthouses and federal buildings. 

We cannot even watch Clint Hurdle’s Pirates play baseball without first being stopped and searched in order to enter the stadium where the game is being played.

We Americans have a proud history of strength in the face of adversity and courage in the face of fear.  Our country was founded by men and women willing to defy the world’s reigning power and who pledged  to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. 

It was built into the greatest country in the world by men and women who risked all to explore, settle and tame a continent;  who bravely fought and all too often died in war to protect our freedoms;  who explored the highest mountains and the ocean’s depths; who rode rockets into space and went to the moon;  and who made this “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Which takes me back to Hurdle’s message of the day on September 9th.  A message we should repeat to our political leaders and lawmakers … and one which we should insist that they have in mind when they make decisions about the well-being our of country and its people:

It’s amazing what we can accomplish if we refuse to be afraid. Fear — whether it’s of pain, failure or rejection–– is a toxic emotion that creates monsters in our mind that consume self-confidence and intimidate us from doing our best or sometimes even trying at all.

________________________________

For the full story of Clint Hurdle and his “Thought of the Day” messages, see this moving and inspirational story by Tom Friend of ESPN.com:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/9726637/pirates-manager-clint-hurdle-inspiring-others-daily&ex_cid=MyESPNToday_MostSent

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