It was a Saturday morning at the house and I was sitting in my home office reflecting on some things. This is my quiet time of the day, as the girls are usually asleep and I have some time to read or catch up on some work. On this particular morning, I pulled a book called “The 100 – Insights and Lessons from 110 of the Greatest Speakers and Speeches Ever Delivered” by Simon Maier and Jeremy Kourdioff off the shelf. I flip through the book from time to time, and I decide this morning to read about a topic (and person) I don’t know much about; William Jennings Bryan and a speech he gave in 1896.
On the TV in the background is the MLB Network and they are airing a special on the 50 Greatest MLB Finishes of All Time. You wouldn’t think there was a natural parallel between these two subjects, but eventually they tie together.
After reading a bit of the story behind Bryan’s speech, which was a political speech at the Democratic National Convention, I immediately think back to Barack Obama’s speech at the Convention back in 2004. Many believe that speech gave Obama some extra publicity and help springboard him to the presidency. He was a great orator and took advantage of the opportunity to step forward in the party. Bryan was similar.
Bryan was a successful lawyer and a Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson. He was also a great orator and because of his speeches he was sort of a “celebrity” of his time. This speech in particular was pretty moving, as the book outlines, and at the time was considered one of the greatest speeches in political history. The speech in July of 1896 was called “The Cross of Gold Speech”, and detailed his beliefs on the standardization of the dollar to that of silver. The speech ultimately led him to be nominated as the youngest presidential nominee in history (he was 36 at the time).
After some time I focus my attention back to the TV special, and the announcer is about to cover the top 5 finishes in MLB history. As I watch each one, I cannot help but think to myself, “what was going through each player’s mind right before that swing?”
As a baseball fan, you might remember each player’s impact on the game by that one swing or at-bat. Personally, I just need to heat the names and their moment comes to mind: Joe Carter, Mookie Wilson, David Freese, Kirk Gibson and Carlton Fisk. They are a big part of baseball history.
What were they thinking right before that swing? What was Obama thinking before he stepped to that podium in 2004? Was Bryan ready for greatness as he penned his speech back in 1896?
Think about your own life, and that opportunity to be GREAT. My sense is that each of those men were ready for GREATNESS, but they still had to have the COURAGE to step up. Are you doing that in your own life?
As one final correlation on this topic, I flip to Isaiah 60:1, which (in my bible) is labeled as “The Glory of Zion”. That passage starts with this line, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
There is a “light” in all of us, and it is waiting to shine bright. There is a GREATNESS in all of us, and it is ready to be unleashed. Have courage during the tough moments and the “light” or that “greatness” will shine through.
Chris Hardie is the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach at Waynesburg University. You can follow him on Twitter @Coach_Hardie_WU or follow the team on Facebook at Waynesburg University Cross Country.