I don’t watch much baseball, but every year I love watching the World Series. This year has not been a disappointment. With all of the natural disasters in both Houston and Los Angeles, it has given those cities something to cheer about. It reminds me of the 2013 World Series. There was tragedy in Boston that spring. In April, there was a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.  Later that month, David Ortiz, a star player for the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise, known by fans as “Big Papi” took the stage.  It was the first time the Red Sox were back to Fenway Park after the attack.  Big Papi took the mic and told the fans that the jerseys they were wearing did not say Red Sox, they said Boston.  And he added “Boston is our city!  And nobody is going to dictate our freedom!  Stay Strong!”

What David didn’t mention was that the Red Sox had taken last place in their division the previous year.  Big Papi’s speech made it clear he was not living in the past; he was focused on what his team would do this year.

His short speech ignited nothing short of a miracle.  From that moment on, the Red Sox had a chip on their shoulder.  They were out to prove to the world what the city of Boston meant to each and every player.  They were driven, they were united and they were fearless.  The team felt the weight of the situation and they were going to give their fans and the city something to get excited about.

As the season progressed they started winning.  Many experts and commentators believed Boston could make a run, but no one was predicting what would happen next.  They kept winning and Big Papi kept rallying the troops.  It was as if every time he was at the plate he was setting the example for the rest of the team.  He was telling the team nothing matters as much as this season right now.  We may only be baseball players, but we can prove to the world the strength of our city.

They kept winning and had a chance after taking last in the division the year before to win their division.  They did.  They moved from last to first, one of the few times in baseball history this had been accomplished.  Now some experts and commentators started paying even more attention to Boston.  Could they make a run in the World Series?  Could they go from last in their division to World Series Champions?  Surely this emotion would eventually wear off and the team would come back to earth.

In the World Series, they faced a very talented St. Louis Cardinal team, but the momentum and focus of the Boston team was too much.  They won the World Series at Fenway Park where Big Papi’s speech had been made just months before.   It was the first time since 1918 that Boston won the World Series at Fenway Park.  Who was the MVP of the World Series?  David Ortiz.  In his acceptance speech his first words were, “This one’s for you Boston, you guys deserve it.  We’ve been through a lot this year and this is for all of you and all the families that are struggling with the bombing from earlier this year.  This is for all of you.”   His final comment wasn’t just for his teammates, but for the city of Boston as well, “nobody can ever hold us down.”

What changed?

They knew they needed to depend on each other to bring back the swagger of their city.  They went from a team filled with struggle and frustration to a team laser focused on taking back their city, giving the fans of Boston something to yell for and cheer about.  The message was, “You can hit us and you may knock us down, but you can’t knock us out.  You don’t know anything about Boston.  You don’t know who we are and what we stand for.  You have not seen anything yet.  You just sit back and watch what we do this year.  Sit back and observe the strength of this city.”  Ortiz became the spokesman for Boston.

He demonstrated what I call Authentic Confidence. He was motivated to help his team win. He was a superstar, but it wasn’t about racking up records for himself. It was about rallying his team around a cause that mattered.

Who do you think demonstrates Authentic Confidence?

Why are they a leader worth following?

Enjoy game seven!

One Comment

  • Jay Schumerth says:

    Ben- Thanks again for showing that it is always something much larger than ourselves, a game, a job, or any individual thing that brings out the best in us.

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