Moneyball

The real estate company that manages the house we stayed in last week offers free DVD rentals as an added value for choosing their houses to vacation in.  There’s a box outside the rental office and you are provided with an access card that lets you borrow two movies at a time for free.

We made good use of this service over the past week.  We stayed in most nights, choosing to grill steaks or bratwurst and vegetables rather than go out to eat.  That provided plenty of time for cuddling on the couch and veging out to a wide variety of Pixar style animated and other youth oriented films my girls wanted to watch.

Friday night, Samantha chose a movie for us to watch and so after a long, farewell walk on the beach the kids settled down to watch Amy Adams in Enchanted and she and I set up my laptop on our bed and watched Moneyball.  The house was small enough and the acoustics awkward enough that a satisfactory volume on the girl’s movie made for too loud for us to adequately hear our movie.  As a solution Samantha and I shared a pair of headphones and snuggled a little closer–win-win as far as I was concerned.

I missed Moneyball when it first came out.  I saw the trailers and thought, “Hey, that might be good.”  It had Jonah Hill, who I like, and Brad Pitt, whom I grudgingly admit that I like.  I later found out it also had Philip Seymour Hoffman who none of us realize how much we like as he’s so capable of blending himself seamlessly into his role we forget who he is each time.  Which if you think about it is really the sign of a master actor.

We always praise the skills of actors like Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Jack Nicholson or even Clint Eastwood, when actually they are just personalities we like.  These guys just play themselves adapted to whatever role their playing, they’re not really great actors they’re great performers.  The really great actors are often those guys whose names you can never remember.  You’ve seen them in a million films but you forget who they are each time as they so completely become their roles–but I digress.

If you haven’t seen Moneyball, you should, I recommend it.  However, it’s been out long enough that I don’t feel bad spoiling it for you.  There are some ideas it brought out that are very relevant to what we talk about here.

To sum up Brad Pitt plays the general manager of the Oakland A’s.  The A’s are a low budget team in a field of financial giants.  Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, feels he’s hamstrung in fulfilling his mandate as a GM, i.e. winning the World Series, by his team’s low budget and his inability to afford highly skilled players.

Enter Jonah Hill.  Beane meets Hill’s character, Peter Brand, while out at another team trying to trade for new talent.  Brand is working as an intern.  He’s a Yale graduate with a degree in economics and a very unusual view on how a team can be run and be effective.  Rather than returning home with new ball players Pitt comes home with a new assistant GM.

Together they challenge all the established ideas about how a team is to be managed and despite all the naysaying and resistance make a remarkably good showing for themselves.  So much so that by the end of the movie, Beane is approached by the Boston Red Sox and offered what, at the time, was the highest yearly salary of any GM in the history of sport.

As a subtext to the main plot we get some back story on Beane.  He was recruited, right out highschool to play for the Majors.  We are told that he was seen as being one of the most highly skilled athletes the recruiters had ever seen and that they were willing to pay big bucks to have him play.  We learn that when he did get to play he choked, consistently, and never was able to fully express the talent he exhibited in high school.

At the end of the movie, we learn, he chokes again.  He turns down the high salary and the opportunity to parlay his new methodology in an environment that supports it in order to stay in Oakland.  We also learn that two years after his interview with the Red Sox the Sox win the pennant using Beane’s methods and that to this day Beane is still in Oakland trying to win the World Series.

Saturday night I got a call from my aunt.  My eight year old cousin had just won the World Series of Little League baseball.  In fact, he had scored the winning run.  I wish you could see Carter.  He’s a fairly typical eight year old boy and to his credit he’s a good ball player, but what he as in spades is swagger.  This boy believes he’s awesome and has the confidence to prove it.

The details of his winning run include the fact that he was actually called out sliding into home plate, but the catcher dropped the ball.

Skill is always an essential component in any endeavor, but confidence can take you places that skill alone never will.  Carter’s confidence that he could score the winning run and win the World Series outweighed that catcher’s confidence that he could stop him.

Beane’s lack of confidence stopped him from taking advantage of one of the greatest opportunities in the history of sport.

How’s your confidence?

Mine’s not always what I’d like it to be.  I find myself dwelling on lost opportunities and times when I choked, or looking to the injustices and infractions that undermined my confidence growing up.  All of that is a waste of time.  It only serves to reinforce the idea that I can’t or shouldn’t and build up the insecurities that undermine my confidence.

I have lots of victories as well.  My time is better spent reflecting on those, reminding myself of my capabilities, the opportunities I did take and the strengths I did and do exhibit, to focus on what I can do.  The same goes for you.

My gym is built for growth.  I recently added a bunch of house plants tot he gym.  I added them for two reasons.  The first is that Chip has them in his gym and not only do they look cool they add a great vibe and atmosphere to his gym.  I wanted to replicate that here.

The other reasons is that they’re growing things.  Overtime we’ll see their growth and that growth serves as a subtle reminder of our own growth.  What seems like a minor cue can actually be a powerful stimulant and it’s through these and other more obvious methods I work to help us all grow, stronger, more vital, more confident.

This is the last week to sign up for Chip’s workshop.  The event will run 10 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday.  A group of us will be going together to get dinner Saturday night.  That’s one of the great things about these workshops, not only is it an opportunity for us to learn new skills and push old boundaries, we also get to spend time with like minded people, developing new friendships and building new alliances.  I hope you can join us.

To register go HERE.

Stay Strong.

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Filed under Fitness, Motivation, Movement, Personal Development, Personal Training, Recovery, Strength, Strength Training

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