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Beating the Odds

A Wish for 2012

Years ago, there was a young musician in the Bay Area who made a living giving banjo lessons. Each of his students came on a certain day of the week.

One evening, however, the teacher was waiting and waiting for someone to show up for a lesson. No one did. This puzzled the teacher, who couldn’t understand why anyone would skip a music lesson.

Finally, it dawned on the teacher why the student never arrived. It was New Year’s Eve!

It turns out that the teacher was Jerome Garcia, who would go on to fame as Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead. Garcia was so wrapped up in what he loved that he did not even know what day it was.

That’s my New Year‘ wish for you, that you’ve found something that completely absorbs you.

There’s a story (hopefully true) told about tennis legend Chris Evert, who once won a tournament in a venue so tight that she ran into a chair during one point. Later, when the organizers presented the trophy, they apologized for the chair.

“What chair?” Evert wanted to know.

I’m fascinated by people with this kind of laser focus.

In the 1980 World Series, in a showdown of Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton was pitching to George Brett. Years later, when asked what it felt like to pitch to such a dangerous batter, Carlton said, “I didn’t even know he was there. I just looked at the target that the catcher was giving me.”

“Your focus is your future,” a wise person once said.

“Forget being well-rounded,” said another. “Develop sharp edges.”

In forming your New Year’s Resolutions, look for a sharp edge.


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