In her recently published book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain examines the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert. As she explains, an introvert prefers one-on-one conversations to group activities; also, solitude, reflection before action, unhurried introspection, listening rather than talking, doing rather than talking about what to do, taking small (prudent) risks, eliminating distractions, simplified processes, and having a few close friends rather than lots of casual acquaintances. However, the word “introvert” is NOT a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Nor are introverts necessarily shy, although they do prefer environments that are not overstimulating. They would rather take more time to get “it” right than have to repair “it,” whatever the “it” may be.
I thought about Cain’s insights as I read an article written by Kevin Sherrington and featured in The Dallas Morning News (“In helping hurt friend tell his story, Cowboys’ Jason Garrett shows he’s not all business,” March 9, 2012). Sherrington discusses a 20-year friendship that Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has developed with Brad Urschel, someone whose story you might not know.
“Voted the best athlete in the first 50 years of St. Mark’s, he played football and competed in the decathlon at Princeton. He was so accomplished, he put off medical school a year to try out for the ’84 Olympics. On Nov. 30, 1983, in fact, he and his father were driving all night on a remote West Texas highway, on their way to a track meet, when the car overturned. Brad was thrown from the back seat.” Today, “he has almost no short-term memory. Introductions take two or more tries. He walks with a pronounced limp. He can’t drive, can’t hold a full-time job, can’t be perfect anymore. His philosophical nature spills out in fits and starts, sometimes punctuated by short, exasperated sighs.”
Other details are best revealed within context, in Sherrington’s article, but what we learn about Garrett corroborates several of Cain’s key points. Here is the passage that caught my eye: “Sometimes we judge people too harshly by the way they answer questions. We give too much credit to the glib and too little to the dull. We want emotion and volume and truth. It makes for better copy. Jason Garrett isn’t always at his best in those forums. He’s better doing the asking.”
I am among those who need reminders such as these from time to time:
o Because we have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth, we should be observing and listening at least 80% of the time.
o “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln
o “There are two ways to live your life – one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
To read the complete article, please click here.
With the flurry of collegiate bowl games and the onset of professional football playoffs, my attention today turns away from business to sports.
Sports has long been a popular arena for writers, including from those who cover the various events, as well as those who coach and play it. Sports has also been an increasingly popular source for business analogies – “you hit a home run,’ “that presentation was a hole-in-one,” “it was a slam-dunk in there today,” and so forth.
If you were to ask me what my all-time favorite sports book is, it would not take very long to get you an answer. My choice is Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, 1968). In that book, the former offensive guard for the Packers revealed in-depth and behind-the-scenes information about life with legendary coach Vince Lombardi. Of interest to Dallas Cowboys fans is the revelation that he believed he may have been offsides on the famous goal-line plunge by quarterback Bart Starr that gave the Packers a last-minute victory in the famed 1967 Ice Bowl. How we have wished that they could have been pushed back five yards!
The book was republished in 2006, and that edition is still available on Amazon.com. But, for me, I read the book as a teenager, and I remember many parts of it vividly.
One other note about this book: like many works that athletes authored, this one was “as told to,” and the target was Dick Schapp. He was one of the great sports writers and interviewers of modern times. Even the unpredictable and volatile basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight admired him. Sports fans throughout the the world miss him.
That’s my vote. What about you?
A recent book review in the Wall Street Journal highlighted a new best-seller entitled Fame: What the Classics Tell Us About Our Cult of Celebrity by Tom Payne (Picador, 2010). Critics have provided a number of favorable reviews about the book.
As we begin the new year, I wonder if you might consider an alternative to this type of book. Because the famous tell only one side of the story. For years, we have been fascinated by the way that famous people live. This includes politicians, movie stars, military leaders, athletes, upper-class societal types, among others. For many of us, these are people who live what we can only dream about. For others, they are role models. As I learned many years ago, “if you want to be rich, don’t follow the pattern of a poor person.”
But, what about unknown, non-famous people? There is a different story that revolves around them. How can we access life lessons from people who aren’t famous? While there are fewer treatises written about and by people who are not famous, they do exist. If you look hard enough, you will find them.
Here’s one that I enjoyed a few years ago. It is called Hotel Kid: A Times Square Childhood by Stephen Lewis (Paul Dry Books, 2004). The kid was rich, but not famous. Have you ever heard of him? You may know people who have invested in urban, downtown-centered condominiums, many of which are renovated from warehouses or very old office complexes. Living there is different from most of us, but not drastically so. But a hotel? What if you lived and grew up in a hotel? What do you learn? How do you cope? How do you turn out?
Or, how about Cotton Bowl Days: Growing up with Dallas and the Cowboys in the ’60′s by John Eisenberg (Zondervan, 2004)? He wasn’t an NFL star – just a kid in a Jewish family that had Sunday routines with football. It sure was different than what we do today, but his experience broadens our own perspective considerably.
No one has to be famous to have a story that others can enjoy, learn from, and put to use in certain ways. If you look hard enough, they exist. And, they can be just as valuable as any book written about someone famous.
What about you? Do you have a favorite book by or about someone who would never be included in a book such as Fame? Write back and tell me about it! Let’s share the title with others!
Bob Morris, my colleague on this blog, has written more than once about the power of “followership.” Followership is valuable. So – consider this…
I am convinced that if journalists covered any story the way that the Dallas Morning News covers the Dallas Cowboys, we’d understand, and then solve, every problem in the country in a week.
You should have seen the paper the morning after Wade Phillips was fired. You needed the physical paper – the on-line version simply did not have the over-all impact of the two page spread with the charts and graphics and analysis, all in one big overwhelming visual. Seriously, the News covers few stories with the detail and creativity that they demonstrate in their coverage of the Dallas Cowboys.
Anyway, Jason Garrett is the new (interim) coach, and we think he may have pulled off the miracle of the decade last night in beating the New York Giants yesterday. But there was this item on the Cowboys blog by Todd Archer (on the News web site) that just really rubbed me the wrong way. Jason Garrett comes in providing clear directions, with leadership that is clearly desperately needed. But leaders have to be followed. And this one guy – well, if this account is true, he’s just a jerk! Here’s the account:
Jason Garrett made it clear that players were required to wear sport coats, ties, slacks and dress shoes for road trips. After all, today’s game against the New York Giants is a business trip.
Hanging around the Jersey City Westin on Saturday night when the team arrived, I noticed Marion Barber was in a sport coat and jeans without a tie. Everybody else I saw – and it was not everybody – met Garrett’s requirement.
Is it a big deal? Not really but there is a level of disrespect being shown by not following the dress code in the first week. And it gives Garrett the chance to send a message, whether he does it publicly or not. Players will know what happens.
What makes it worse, to me, is that Barber is a team captain and he chose not to follow Garrett’s rules. What kind of message does that send to the team as a captain?
We’ll see the post-game attire. Players are required to return home in suits too. That was not the case under Wade Phillips.
I watch each Ryder Cup competition from start to finish and this year’s matches, especially those delayed until Monday, were among the best I’ve seen thus far. For those who do not know, the U.S. team lost to the European team 15-13 but could have retained the cup had Hunter Mahan not lost in the final match, playing Graeme McDowell (from Northern Ireland) who won the U.S. Open earlier this year.
Later, at the press conference, Mahan was disconsolate. He had played brilliantly throughout the three-day competition (win or lose) but stumbled near the end of the final match. Later, his teammates tried to comfort him but, clearly, he was (and perhaps remains) convinced that he had lost the Ryder Cup.
My initial reaction was sympathy, as was Mahan’s teammates’, but then I had second thoughts.
What if Mahan had defeated McDowell? At the press conference later, would he have then claimed that he had won the Ryder Cup? Of course not.
Individuals on teams do not win or lose games (especially championships), their teams do.
That was true when Bobby Thompson hit a homerun off Ralph Branch of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Giants won the World Series in 1951, and when Bill Buckner was unable to field a ground ball and his team, the Boston Red Sox, lost to the New York Mets in the World Series (1986), and when Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills missed a field goal wide right in Super Bowl XXV (1991) in a game won by the New York Giants, and when (closer to home) tight end Jackie Smith of the Dallas Cowboys dropped a pass in the end zone from Roger Staubach in Super Bowl XIII (1979) in a game that the Pittsburgh Steelers eventually won by four points.
Note: By the way, Smith was later voted into the NFL Hall of Fame…and deservedly so.
I urge those who have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or know someone else involved in team sports to help them understand that, to repeat, individuals on teams do not win or lose games (especially championships), their teams do.
And whatever the final result may be, I hope they enjoy the participation.