26 Feb 2009   09:54:39 pm
KEN GRIFFEY, JR., Seattle Mariner
“You're not promised tomorrow, so go out and play as hard as you can.”

Spoken by baseball star, Ken Griffey Jr., the most renown of all Seattle Mariner baseball players.

Nearing the end of his illustrious career, Ken Griffey, Jr., had an agonizing decision to make. Does he choose the Atlanta Braves (and stay close to family) or does he choose the Seattle Mariners (and return to his baseball beginnings and long-term legacy)?

FOR THE BIGGER STORY READ ON ...
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Ken Griffey, Jr., on February 21, 2009, made the formal announcement that he was returning “home” to the Seattle Mariners. It had been an agonizing week for him, trying to decide where best to conclude a phenomenal, yet injury-ridden career. His choices seemed to come down to ... home or home. Home, as in family. Or home, as in the place where he began his illustrious career and is loved unconditionally and exuberantly by his fans.

In the end, he chose his career home. And his success with the Mariners is not trivial. He is the Mariners' career leader in home runs [398], slugging percentage [.569] and he trails only Edgar Martinez in team history in total games played [1,535]. He's also second to Martinez in hits, RBIs, extra-base hits, at-bats, doubles, runs and total bases. In other words, to all of us in Seattle, Ken Griffey, Jr., is a superstar. In fact, Seattle's beautiful baseball park is often referred to as “the house that Griffey built.”

But I want to return to the Real Zeal Quote of the Week as it applies to us. “You’re not promised tomorrow, so go out and play as hard as you can.”

This is one of those statements that we all "know" but for some reason, don’t live. On the way from our head to our heart, the truth of this message gets waylaid. We speak these words, but we really don’t believe them. We live as if we’ve got plenty of time. We operate as if we can do whatever it is we want to do/are committed to do/dream of doing ... later. We convince ourselves of the mythology that somehow, some way, we’ve got unlimited time.

Ken Griffey, Jr., has (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your interpretation) learned this truth the hard way. Since 2000, he has been on the disabled list more than 8 times. Between 2002 and 2004, he never played in more than 100 games in a season. During his career, he has suffered knee injuries, torn hamstrings, dislocated shoulders, sprained ankles, broken wrists, and much, much more.

Ken Griffey, Jr., is a man who knows with every fiber of his being that he is not promised tomorrow.

So the inquiry becomes: What does it take for us to start living the words of Ken Griffey, Jr. – playing as hard as we can today, knowing we’re not promised tomorrow?

To read more on this phenomenal athlete and inspiring man’s history:

From Answers.com: http://www.answers.com/topic/ken-griffey-jr

From ESPN on Ken Griffey Jr.’s legacy: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3918723

And on his most recent press conference with the Mariners and the Source of this week’s Real Zeal quote: http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090221&content_id=3862172&vkey=news_sea&fext=.jsp&c_id=sea
Category : General | Posted By : admin
20 Feb 2009   02:30:57 am
KURT WARNER, Quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals
“Courage is a by-product of passion.”

Kurt Warner spoke these words at a ceremony in April of 2008, where he was awarded the Athletes in Action Courage Award. This award is given annually to the NFL player who has exemplified outstanding character, commitment and leadership both on and off the field.

I’ve been pondering Kurt’s words all week, reflecting not only on my own life, but on the lives of truly successful individuals in the world. Is our passion really the access to our courage? Is it the only access? The primary access? All those times I’ve wished I were more courageous, was I looking in the wrong place? Was I trying to ‘force’ acts of courage instead of looking deeply for my passion and using that to source my courage? As I write this REAL ZEAL, I am still very much in the inquiry with these questions reverberating around in my brain. I am clear on one thing, however: courage as a by-product of passion is definitely a premise worth pursuing.

Now ... on to Kurt Warner... and for those of you who aren’t familiar with his story, it is not only inspirational, it has required a lot, I repeat a LOT, of courage.

First, let me say that I have a special affinity for Kurt as he is a fellow Iowan who went to Northern Iowa College in Cedar Falls, a mere 20 miles from my small hometown of Grundy Center.

Although Kurt was a successful quarterback in college, he was not drafted by the NFL. He did attend the Green Bay Packers training camp in 1994, even signed a contract with them, but was released before the season began. Thus, the now-famous story of Kurt working in a Hy-Vee grocery store stocking shelves for $5.50 an hour (all the while hoping and praying for his “big” opportunity).

When no other NFL teams came calling, he signed with The Iowa Barnstormers (of the Arena Football League) in 1995. He more than excelled in this venue: he was named to the All-Arena First Team in 1996 and 1997 and led the Barnstormers to Arena Bowl appearances in each of those seasons.

In 1997 another “big” opportunity presented itself, this time with the Chicago Bears. But Fate intervened once again and Kurt was denied his chance to audition. A spider bite on his throwing arm (from his honeymoon, no less) threw a wrench in this opportunity and it was back to the drawing board. More courage required. More calling on passion to keep his dream alive.

In 1998, he was recruited by the St. Louis Rams. Not considered good enough to play in the U.S., however, he was sent to Europe to play for the NFL’s Amsterdam Admirals. And Kurt did what he always does when given the chance – he excelled; he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns.

The ultimate turning point came in 1999 when the Rams’ quarterback, Trent Green, was injured in preseason play. Kurt took over as starting quarterback and the rest, as they say, is history. In quite miraculous and unpredictable fashion, Kurt not only put together one of the most successful seasons of any quarterback in NFL history (he threw for 4353 yards and 41 touchdown passes) he took his team to the Super Bowl and won! That year, Kurt was selected as both the league’s and the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player.

Kurt has played in two Super Bowls since and in this most recent season, he once again led a team, the Arizona Cardinals, that was not even expected to win its division, let alone make it to the Super Bowl.

Off the field, Kurt devotes time, energy and money to his First Things First foundation. The foundation actively supports children's hospitals, people with developmental disabilities and single parents. When you check out Kurt’s website, you will undoubtedly be amazed and impressed with the multitude of ongoing projects. In Kurt’s own words: “I know 10 years from now, a lot of people won't remember who won the Super Bowl or how many touchdown passes I threw. But when you go to a charity event like this or you touch somebody's life in some way, they don't forget. And that's the legacy I want to leave. I want to leave an impact on the people's lives I meet.”

Below are links that give you some additional perspective on this inspiring athlete who is truly inspiring the world.

From The Ellen DeGenenes Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwAAmLudRoY

From Kurt’s own website: www.kurtwarner.org

From the Christian Sports Planet and the source of the Real Zeal Quote of the Week: http://christiansportsplanet.blogspot.com/2008/04/cardinals-kurt-warner-honored-with-call.html

And from the most unusual of sites, Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/glurge/warner.asp (I chose this one because as you read through the material, the truly inspiring story of Kurt’s life emerges in brilliant color.)

Inquiry for You: Spend some time analyzing your own courage. Where are you most courageous? Are you most courageous in those areas in which you are most passionate? What do you see about this connection between passion and courage in your own life?
Category : General | Posted By : admin
12 Feb 2009   07:33:46 pm
DAN ROONEY, Owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers
“What mattered was that you lived up to your word, pulled your own weight and looked out for your friends.”

On February 1st of this year, 2009, the Pittsburgh Steelers won an unprecedented 6th Super Bowl – more than any team in history.

Personally, I was rooting for the Arizona Cardinals, but in the aftermath of the game and all the post-game stories, I discovered a fascinating individual – Dan Rooney. He is the 76-year-old owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the inspiration behind today’s REAL ZEAL.

FOR THE BIGGER STORY READ ON ...
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I am more than inspired by what I am reading about the 76-year-old owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dan Rooney. Dan’s father, Art Rooney, founded the team in 1933, just 12 days shy of Dan’s first birthday, so it is entirely accurate to say that for Dan’s ENTIRE life he has been an integral part of Pittsburgh football.

According to all I’ve read (and by now, it’s a lot), Dan Rooney is not only the heart and soul of the Steelers’ team, he is revered and respected by his players, his coaches and the entire “Steeler Nation.” He is a man who exemplifies integrity, fair play, and loyalty.

Looking deeper, what I see in Dan Rooney is a person whose integrity and loyalty are rooted in love – love for his players, love for his coaches, love for the game, and love for the Steeler tradition. After every game, Mr. Rooney walks from locker to locker, thanking players for their play. He not only knows each player’s name, he’s familiar with their families; he knows who they ARE.

And for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rooney’s love (and all it entails) has translated into unprecedented success ... as in a record six Super Bowl wins. Translated into continuity ... as in only three (read that, three) coaches in the team’s last forty years. Translated into cohesion ... as in a team that considers itself to be a family and operates on the premise, ‘we are one.’ “Guys just love playing here. We have Mr. Rooney's cell number. We practice hard, we play hard, and we have a lot of fun doing it.'' (From Troy Polamalu, star defensive player)

So, we circle back to the Real Zeal Quote of the Week and a philosophy that has sourced one of the most winning teams in professional football history: “What mattered was that you lived up to your word, pulled your own weight and looked out for your friends.”

So the Inquiry for Us Becomes: If our family or friends or co-workers were interviewed, what would they say about us? What is the legacy weare creating? Dan Rooney has his. What is ours?

Click on the links below to read about this inspiring man and his remarkable team.

Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/28/AR2009012803393.html?hpid=topnews

New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/sports/football/27rooney.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Sports Illustrated:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/peter_king/02/02/superbowl/index.html?eref=sixtra_newsletter020209

His Book: Dan Rooney: My 75 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL
http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Rooney-Years-Pittsburgh-Steelers/dp/0306817454/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233951888&sr=1-1
Category : General | Posted By : admin
05 Feb 2009   07:37:01 pm
PAT SUMMIT, University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Coach
"I don't tell them what they want to hear, I tell them what they need to hear. And the way I frame it is, 'You're . . . better . . . than this.’"

Spoken by Pat Summitt, coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers. On February 5 of this year (2009), Coach Summitt won her 1000th basketball game, a feat unrivaled in sports history.

What has operating in this mode of straight-talk and seeing-people-bigger-than-they-see-themselves yielded for Pat Summit and her teams?

In 35 seasons at Tennessee, her winning percentage is .844. That means that for every 10 games, she wins 8 of them! She's won 8 national titles. And of her 1000 wins? No coach, man or woman, is within 30 victories of that record. Of all the young women Pat has ever coached, one third have gone on to become coaches themselves and ALL have graduated!

Pat Summit has created a legacy of unprecedented success, unwavering respect and powerful leadership.

To read more on this inspired athlete and her phenomenal story, check out:

From the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/28/AR2009012803693.html?hpid=topnews

And the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/sports/ncaabasketball/25summitt.html?8dpc

And the Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2009/02/06/pat-summitt-celebrates-grand-achievement/

The Inquiry for Each of Us: Where are we not saying what needs to be said, but instead, telling people what they want to hear? What is it costing them? What is it costing us? And, bigger still, where are we forgetting to frame what wesay inside a bigger context of respect and honor (i.e., “You’re ‘bigger than this”)?
Category : General | Posted By : admin
 
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