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Beating the Odds

Burning to Live

An old sports writer friend once told a story about Moe Berg, a one-of-a-kind ballplayer who read 10 newspapers a day and happened to be an atomic spy for the United States.

Berg was a mediocre batter, but he did speak seven languages, prompting Dave Harris, an outfielder for the Washington Senators, to say, “Yeah, I know, and he can’t hit in any of them.”

Anyway, as the story goes, Berg’s intellect and skill in languages won him an invitation to teach baseball in Japan in the early 1930s. At first he protested, saying that he didn’t speak the language He made the trip anyway, and when it was time to go home, someone noticed Berg speaking to a dignitary in Japanese.

“I thought you didn’t speak Japanese,” the person said.

“Yes,” replied Berg, “but that was a month ago.”

It turns out that when you look at the details of Berg’s life, the story isn’t true. At best, it is a jumble of stories about a person who had a passion for languages.

But passion led him all over the world. Passion can change your life.

“A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm,” said Charles M. Schwab.

Whether you’re an athlete, a student, a leader or in business, you will accomplish more if you approach your work with passion.

“Said author Jack Kerouac, “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live.”

When I talk about passion, people often say, “But what if I don’t feel that passion?”

It’s a great question, but most people don’t like the answer. Here it is: If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re doing, either look  more deeply into what you’re doing, or do something else.

This answer turns off many people because they are comfortable where they are. They’re not happy, but they’re comfortable. They don’t want to risk income, especially in this economy. Unfortunately, comfort is the enemy of growth. To change your life, yoiur must change your thoughts. Find a goal. Find a mission. Find what you are mad about.

Someone once said, “When you know clearly what you want, you’ll wake up every morning excited about life.”

Who knows? Maybe in a month you’ll be speaking Japanese.

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