Friday, April 5, 2013

The Key To Winning At Life

On Fridays, we often turn away from politics and try to tackle something lighter and more humorous. We know with heavy stuff like the ongoing tension in Korea, or the ever-worsening effects of the sequester, that's not easy. Still, personal events and anniversaries in the lives of our staff seem to make humor something a bit out of place today. That doesn't mean we can't inspire you though, just as the four people we're thinking of today have inspired us.

Much of America is lamenting over the passing of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, and we have to admit, we are too. Ebert, at 70, was still interested and willing to try new things in life, in writing, and often in the realm of technology that surprised many people a quarter of his age. We can't say we always agreed with Ebert on his movie revues, though we did agree with one element of his style.

Roger Ebert didn't fight WITH you, so much as he fought FOR you - to understand where he was coming from, and for him to understand why you didn't agree with his opinions of movies, politics, and more. That passion to want to make everyone else better is one we wish all people shared.

Another great writer America lost this week did share that passion, legendary sportswriter Stan Issacs. For those in the media who knew Issacs' work, there was often a sense of two minds about his work, especially for those hard-core sports media junkies. When talking about the best sportswriters, we've often heard Issacs' work derided as not "pure" enough, or too "elite", with references to pieces like his legendary David vs. Goliath postgame interview.

Of course, many of these same sportswriters would quietly admit to us later that they only wished they had half the talent Issacs did - or half of his courage. Issacs' courage wasn't as evident in his actions like swiping the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers pennant from L.A., as it was in sticking to Joseph Pulitzer's legendary ideal that news media - including sports - should "inform and enlighten." We hope our friend and media colleague Dave Zirin of The Nation doesn't think we're overreaching when we say we see hints of Issacs all over his work - and we're frankly glad for it.

Another great media talent we had the pleasure of working with also passed on this week, Matt Cooper, a radio producer and professional broadcaster few in front of the scenes knew. The best producers in media - and in life - are those people who do their jobs so well everything they touch seems to be made better simply by their presence. Matt was certainly in that class of superstar, knowing the right song, the right words of encouragement, or the right comment to make, turning every show he worked with into a first class event. His absence is as obvious to us as his presence ever was.

Our staff is also thinking this week of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated forty-five years ago yesterday, as he fought for fair wages and benefits for impoverished workers in Memphis. Some of the lowest wage workers in the most expensive city in America - New York City - were striking on Thursday, and we have a feeling that if Dr. King were still alive, he'd have been proud to stand with those young men and women.

Each of these individuals had several traits in common that many of the most successful people in life have. None of them sold out their ethics, none of them ever stopped trying to improve, and none of them ever really quit working until death stopped them. That we're still talking about them now proves they were even able to defeat death, in a way - a victory we each hope someday we'll be worthy of achieving.

The key to winning at life that each of these four men shared was something even more simple, more honest, more pure. Each man usually did the right thing, for themselves and for others, regardless of what everyone around them said they should do - and often, in spite of what others said.

If each of us on Earth were like these four, in that regard, we think life would be a lot better for everyone.

Of course, a good movie or baseball game, with a bit of rock and roll or gospel music also would help make things better, something we think these four winners would certainly agree with.

Enjoy your weekend. Make the world better, if only by your presence.
And choose to do the right thing.

You won't regret it.