Say It with Soul

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The following is a short book preview contributed by the Ohio State University Leadership Center.

Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do
Kathryn D. Cramer, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (2014)

“On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig, baseball’s legendary first baseman walked on the field at Yankee Stadium to give his farewell speech to the more than sixty-two thousand fans in attendance. Gehrig fought back tears as he thanked his fans, calling himself ‘the luckiest man on the face of this earth.’

Gehrig, thirty-five years old, was retiring from baseball because of a degenerative disease that would take his life two years later. His farewell speech that day went down in history. As you read his words, it is impossible not to feel his soul shining through.

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also,the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, the smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?

Sure I’m lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vise versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her daughter – that’s something.

When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been your tower of strength and shown more courage than you dream existed – that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Why do you think Gehrig’s words continue to inspire almost eighty years after the fact?  First, Gehrig tackled the greatest of all paradoxical truths heads-on: life is fragile, but at the same time it is rich and rewarding assets of being alive over the daunting aspects of facing death (p. 135-137).”

Lead Positive is available from the OSU Leadership Center.

Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is inspiring others to take a leadership role that empowers the world at the OSU Leadership Center website.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On September 28, 2015
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