Remember when you were little and learned about George Washington chopping down his father’s precious cherry tree, and then fessing up? This lesson was shared so that we, as kids, wouldn’t tell a lie. I think 200 years from now, in some Ancient American History course, a teacher will tell kids about a Little Big Man and proclaim, “He wouldn’t let anything stop him.” Kids will say, “I won’t let anything stop me, either!”
HOW TO SUCCEED IN LIFE
This is a “How to Succeed In Life” story to be shared with our overwhelmed and over-anxious young people who struggle in the face of adversity. This story can be your story, my story, or your kid’s story, because at some point, everyone wants to give up. When they do, share this blog with them.
Let me introduce you to Jose Altuve. My photos of him appear in this blog. He hasn’t “grown up” since then. Shorter than short – baseball lists him at 5’ 6” tall. I’ve stood on level ground near him. He is NOT taller than me.
Altuve is, however, a Human Spark Plug. Workhorse. Winner. Eleven days ago, he hit the walk off home run to give the Astros the win over the despondent Yankees to carry Houston to the World Series. Did he claim credit for the win? “And my teammates, they’re the MVPs of the game!” said the Little Big Man. Let’s clone him, shall we?
YOU’RE TOO SMALL
Altuve didn’t just drop out of the sky like a Martian. He earned his stripes. When he tried out for major league baseball in Venezuela at age 16, they sent him home because he was a) too short, and b) they thought he was lying about his age (he looked younger than 16). His dad sent him back the next day with a birth certificate (way to go Dad for NOT bulldozing your way onto your kid’s path to greatness.) The scout thought he saw something special in Altuve. Scrappy. Fast. Warrior. They coughed up $15,000 to sign him to the Houston Astros.
The rest is hard work and history.
Altuve – a six-time All-Star – was named American League MVP in 2017 as the Astros went on to win the World Series two years ago. And he continues to lead and inspire his team to greatness. The final ending for the 2019 World Series has yet to be written. I don’t care if the Astros win or lose. I care that we tell Altuve’s story to our struggling kids. Let me start by sharing my own experience with him.
ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?
I like to buy a single seat behind home plate at Comerica Park and shoot. I always look for visiting baseball teams that have somebody I’d like to photograph. In 2016, the Houston Astros came to town. Altuve and his energy had already captured my attention, so I bought a ticket to the game.
My seat was about 20 feet from home plate. I could hear and see everything happening with batters, catchers, and umpires.
Altuve came up to bat. I’m snapping away. Out of the corner of my right ear, I heard a very loud (drunk?) voice say, “Hey Altuve! Why don’t you go back to Little League!” The Detroit fans cheered wildly at that marvelous idea.
Altuve turned and began to walk in our direction. His eyes were burning coals of anger. He came closer and closer. I continued to photograph him, suppressing my desire to stand up and say, “It wasn’t me! It was HIM!” pointing out the real criminal. He stopped and stood there, staring us down. Of course, that big mouth dude didn’t have the courage to say it to Altuve’s face.
Altuve returned to home plate and promptly got a hit. The best revenge is success.
PROVE THEM WRONG
Nobody goes through life without getting their feelings hurt. At some point, you’ll face someone who tries to cut you down to their size. They’ll tell you to go back to Little League. Naysayers are miserable. Let them be miserable. Focus your energy on overcoming adversity and on achieving excellence. When you get that chance – prove them wrong.
It also helps to know what you’re made of.
WHAT’S YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE?
Altuve’s competitive edge is hard work, leading by example, being a great teammate, and never quitting. These are his strengths, his internal motor. He continues to invest in his motor and harvest the results.
What’s your competitive edge? Are you kind? Are you calm in the face of a storm? Do you outwork everybody else? Do you have a great attitude? Are you coachable? Do you refuse to quit? Are you focused? Do you offer encouragement? We all have a competitive edge, and it’s important to know what it is so we can use it productively.
My competitive edge is building creative solutions to difficult problems and understanding what makes individuals and teams tick. When given a chance to prove my competitive edge, I deliver. It’s not just who I am. It is why I exist.
I live to help awesome people discover their internal rocket fuel and use it to overcome obstacles so that they reach their full potential. I want them to accomplish what they were put on this earth to achieve.
For me, Altuve is an example of the art of the possible – the kind of possible I help others create for themselves. I love the guy. Hard work and history are connected.
When you think about Altuve, what is your take-away? What one thing can you do TODAY to implement what you’ve learned? Can you connect it to your purpose? Can you share something from this story with a young person who has experienced a setback? (Here’s a great article to read with them.)
Whatever it is – do it. Be like Altuve. Be Unstoppable.