Hard Times: Thoughts on Underdogs and Diversity

Secretariat

These are hard times for many, not so hard for some. It depends on where you are working and what your health is. You cannot control, predict, or be in a position to react to most things. Take a deep breath. It will pass. We can all remember other hard times for us personally. Did it not pass?

I am not going to write about COVID-19 per se. Nothing I could say would change anything or provide any expert advice on what to do, other than to say it will pass, and there will likely be new rules. And we will all adjust and move on with what is planned for each of us.

Over the years I have written about personal experiences and thoughts on life’s challenges. I thought I might share some of those with the readers.

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Underdogs

There has been a lot of television watching these days. I have taken pleasure in rewatching two of my favorite movies—Seabiscuit and Secretariat. I love horses and going to the track. These animals are magnificent to look at and watch run. These two horses are among the greatest of all time; some say Secretariat is the greatest of all time. I agree. Both were what you might call underdogs before they found greatness.

Seabiscuit was a poorly trained, beaten, and discarded horse that was believed to have no value. Enter a new owner, new trainer, and some tender loving care. The Biscuit won a match race against Triple Crown winner War Admiral, which inspired a nation during the Great Depression. The race had a radio audience of over 50 million, which was pretty good for 1938. On a personal note, my grandfather heard the race and shared with me the story of America’s best-loved horse. Underdogs do win.

Secretariat was the second choice at a special buying auction. Secretariat was bred from the lineage of Bold Ruler who was a speed horse and not gifted to run long races like the Triple Crown events. With a good owner, good trainer, good jockey, and a lot of love, the horse went on to win the Triple Crown of horse racing. The last race was the longest that any horses run. Secretariat set a record time that still stands today.

At Secretariat’s autopsy, they found that his heart was half again larger than normal. Underdogs often win because they have more heart. You may feel like the underdog these days, but when we get through these hard times, the victory will be sweeter.

Diversity

Things are seldom as they seem. My good friend Paul Jones introduced me to Dusty Rhodes, a professional wrestler and several times world champion. At first blush, one would not be impressed with Dusty. He had bleached-blonde hair, was a little overweight, and spoke with a lisp. He was part of a profession that is typically regarded as fake rather than sport. But you must look under the surface with people to find the true person.

I heard Dusty speak at a company meeting. He offered some straight talk and a message that all of us can buy into. He spoke about how you must appreciate, be sensitive, and go out of your way to understand the diversity of others. The real value of diversity is in the collection of differing ideas and applying them to the team strategy. Each little idea, diverse tought, and individual contribution make for a committed team of doers and success stories.

Dusty spoke of family. Early in his career he admitted that he had not done a good job of being a father and supporting his family. Being so selfishly driven to your career can cause you to miss the importance of balancing the personal and business aspects of life. On this particular day, he had his son and daughter in the audience, and you could feel the love in his voice when he spoke about his family. A professional wrestler said these things, and they made sense. Things are seldom as they seem. Darkest before the dawn.

Always Audacity

Regardless of how tough or proud you are, fear is natural. I suspect that if you are not feeling a little fear these days, you are probably playing it too safe…or not safe enough. And that should be enough right there to scare you.

These hard times will pass. Prayers for those who are suffering. Keep your family first and accept the changes.

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