In recent days, you and I have spent more time at home than usual.
Bart Giamatti was a professor of English Renaissance literature, the president of Yale University, and the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. In less than 3 minutes, Giamatti caused me to understand “home” in a new way. I believe his thoughts on the subject are profoundly insightful.
“There is no great, long poem about baseball. It may be that baseball is itself its own great, long poem. This had occurred to me in the course of my wondering why home plate wasn’t called fourth base. And then this came to me, ‘Why not? Meditate on the name, for a moment, ‘home.’’
“Home is an English word virtually impossible to translate into other tongues. No translation catches the associations, the mixture of memory and longing, the sense of security and autonomy and accessibility, the aroma of inclusiveness, of freedom from wariness that cling to the word ‘home’ and are absent from ‘house’ or even ‘my house.’ Home is a concept, not a place; it’s a state of mind where self-definition starts. It is origins, a mix of time and place and smell and weather wherein one first realizes one is an original; perhaps like others, especially those one loves; but discreet, distinct, not to be copied. Home is where one first learned to be separate, and it remains in the mind as the place where reunion, if it were ever to occur, would happen.”
“All literary romance, all romance epic, derives from The Odyssey and it is about going home. It’s about rejoining; rejoining a beloved, rejoining parent to child, rejoining a land to its rightful owner or rule. Romance is about putting things aright after some tragedy has put them asunder. It is about restoration of the right relations among things. And ‘going home’ is where that restoration occurs, because that’s where it matters most. Baseball is, of course, entirely about going home. And to that extent – and because it’s the only game you ever heard of – where you want to get back to where you started. All the other games are territorial; you want to get his or her territory. But not baseball. Baseball simply wants to get you from here… back around to here.”
Bart Giamatti was 20 years older than me.
For most of my life, I thought of wisdom as always coming from people older than me. But these days, there aren’t that many people older than me. 🙂
In recent years, I’ve been learning from younger men.
I believe my young friend, Shawn Craig Smith, may understand romance epic as well as did Bart Giamatti. In class at Wizard Academy, Shawn wrote, “Prometheus gave man fire, but the power every one of us carries each day, heartbeat by heartbeat, is his story. Come to the circle, bring your spark. We can live as men without fire, but without story, without art, we freeze alone in the cold white waste.”
Jonathan Berman travels a lot. He taught me, “Home is not a place, but a feeling of wholeness and contentment you can take with you wherever you go.”
Jeff Sexton taught me that not every ad writer gathers all the information and then figures out what parts of it to use and how to organize those parts. Jeff made me understand that lots of great ad writers have a template in mind, and then they search for the information that will satisfy that template.
My son Rex taught me that “discovery content” brings new people into contact with your YouTube channel, your blog or other online body of work, and “community content” keeps them coming back again and again after they have discovered you.
My son Jacob showed me that people will like and respect you when it becomes obvious that your hard work and attention-to-detail is for their benefit, not yours.
Tucker Max taught me that a person can benefit from your experience when you tell them (1.) what happened, (2.) how it made you feel, and (3.) what you learned from it.
Tim Miles took the time to tell my son Jacob what a great job he was doing. When I felt ashamed for not having already done it myself, I learned, “No matter how busy you are, when you notice that someone is doing a great job, always take the time to tell them so.”
Daniel Whittington, the chancellor of Wizard Academy, taught me how to be funny at the expense of no other person.
Joe Davis showed me how to take everything in stride and maintain my composure when troubles are stacking up like firewood.
Zac Smith, vice-chancellor of Wizard Academy, showed me the power of passing good things forward so that our students know that we see them, we hear them, and we miss them when they are gone.
Ryan Deiss taught me how to trim sprawling ideas onto a manageable template, “then when the student masters the template, they can throw it away and venture beyond its boundaries.”
Chris Maddock showed me how the most powerful teaching is to give students personalized feedback about each of their attempts to do what you previously explained.
Manley Miller taught me how to turn a small circle of followers into a team, and then turn that team into a tribe, and then make that tribe into a force that can change the world.
Ray Seggern revealed to me the fascinating, interwoven relationships between the culture you create for your employees, the story you tell in your advertising, and the experience you deliver to your customers.
JP Engelbrecht showed me how to lead without being in the spotlight, and how to make money without banging a drum.
Brian Brushwood taught me how to act when you’re in the spotlight, and how to bang a drum so that it can be heard around the world.
Jonathan Bancroft showed me how to listen to a person’s suggestions in full, even when you are certain they are wrong.
Anthony Dina taught me how to turn my attention toward others instead of myself.
And today I have tried my best to do that.
Have a happy day, a great week, and a fruitful year.
Roy H. Williams
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