On Le’Veon Bell and the Lucky Sperm Club
I meet with my old friend Bob as often as possible for coffee on Tuesday mornings. Bob is a good balance in my life. He is much more liberal than I am and as an attorney, he expresses his views well. We both have a high level of respect for each other. We have similar life experiences with both of us being blessed with two children through adoption (I have four children, in total).
Bob and I both agree that we were born with a strategic advantage over others in this world. I tell my children all the time that their back-wheel skill, the one that they should resort to when they lose control must simply be this: GRATITUDE. We cannot hate or hold things against people because of things that are out of their control. Being from Pittsburgh and the son of an Italian man and an Irish woman, a scandal in those days, I was born and raised as a Catholic. Just as I am a Steeler fan until I die, there are things that your birth dictates for the rest of your life. We should never judge other individuals based on situations out of their control. There are good and bad examples of all sorts of citizens of this world. It’s time to stop the labeling.
Le’Veon Bell is a fine and incredible athlete who has given the Steeler Nation years of enjoyment. He was born with the physical capacity to be incredible. Yes, his hard work and determination enabled him to be one of the top college prospects ahead of his draft year. Le’Veon was born with a great physical makeup most others born that year were not. Though he was unproven in the NFL, the Steelers took a chance on him like they do on all their new draftees.
Can you imagine an accountant going to work for a Fortune 500 company and getting paid large sums of money BEFORE they could prove their worth? Football and all sports are backwards. Pay should come as ability and performance are proven. That is what makes college sports so amazing. Athletes play for free college in the hopes of an opportunity for fame and fortune (in that order).
I don’t begrudge Le’Veon his success, and for his sake, I hope the broken system rewards him well. But as a Steeler fan, we love James Connor, a proven hard worker who has a resume that tops all other running backs for what he has had to overcome, cancer. Plus, he’s a Pitt graduate like yours truly. Le’Veon gave up more money missing a single Steelers game this season than James Connor will make in his entire season.
I once had a high-level meeting in Houston with Texas Utilities, the founder of Braniff Airlines, and the grandson of the founder of the Wall Street Journal. Also in the meeting was the Texas state senator who had set up the meeting. As we went around the table introducing ourselves, the Wall Street Journal guy introduced himself as a member of the “Lucky Sperm Club”. What an introduction. He recognized his great advantage and privilege of being born into wealth and opportunity. This guy earned the respect of the entire group immediately by not taking credit for his God-given position.
You don’t always win. Even those born into privilege fail. Financial success does not define winners or losers, it’s being willing to give everything to follow your dreams and to follow it to its last breath of life and do it with integrity. That is what defines a person. Standing tall in victory and taller in defeat is what defines a Winner and a Warrior.
Leland Boren, CEO of Avis Industrial Corporation Upland Indiana, at a recent Board of Directors meeting, presented the company’s five-year plan. The board, stunned at the plan, began to interrogate Leland. Leland responded and asked the board if he should have turned in a 10-year plan instead.
Why did the board question Leland? Because Leland was 95 years old at the time of the meeting. Leland passed away on Thanksgiving evening, just months after that board meeting. Leland, not college educated, had been awarded four honorary college degrees and was been honored with the Sagamore of the Wabash four times by the sitting Governors of Indiana. The Sagamore of the Wabash is the highest citizen honor granted a Hoosier. Leland, born a poor farmer, no membership in the lucky sperm club, earned his privilege through hard work and determination. Leland failed sometimes and was an amazing success at other times.
Another Hoosier, Harland David Sanders, an utter business failure, who had more jobs than many of us will ever have years of life, is another example of strong will and determination. After his father died of cancer when he was six, Harland took on the responsibility of caring for his siblings. After building a successful restaurant only to see an interstate highway take away his customers, Harland was left with a modest social security, a small savings at age 65, and a finger licking good recipe.
Not to fear, at age 73, for $2M (worth $13.5M in todays money), Harland franchised his special recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Like Leland, Harland was bestowed the top citizen honor by the governor of Kentucky honoring his great accomplishments and an explanation of how he got his famous name.
We need more Lelands and Harlands in this country. Instead of our retirement goal being a home on the 18th green at Augusta where we try to shoot our age, maybe our goal should be to hire the same number of people as our age. For me, I need to employ 59 people. I am so jazzed and motivated by those that never ever give up and don’t see age as a factor.
It’s high time that we open our eyes to see TRUTH. It’s time as a nation that we put pettiness aside for the good of all people. It’s time we see that our talents are God given and honed by our metal. The only chest we should thump is that of a person’s whose heart has stopped beating. Let’s begin to see what others do right rather than what others do wrong. Let Gratitude with a dash of Grace be what defines us!