Joe Dimaggio, the epitome of ‘coolness’ in the 30’s and 40’s; not only a professional baseball player and Yankee slugger (no less), but married to Marilyn Monroe! Holy moly, can you have a higher profile career and relationship built into one package? It was an era that saw movie stars and sports figures become ‘larger-than-life’ and evolve into heroes of the ‘super’ kind. There were fewer of them (as compared to this day in age) and their names were synonymous with greatness during a time when people needed escape and a reason to dream.
One can easily imagine that this immense social stature could (and would) result in an inherent disregard for the ‘common folk’ and a loss of perspective. The bright lights, swarms of fans, and relentless media coverage could have forced him into self-preservation mode and built an egocentricity that was as impenetrable as his heart. However, Joe seemed to remain cool under pressure, rarely missing an opportunity to impress, and taking the time to connect with his followers (not in the Facebook sense).
One of Joe’s famous (and most mortal) quotes often sticks with me and can be a mantra for any leader who seeks excellence while maintaining a deep sense of humility - “I played my best everyday; You never know when someone may be seeing you for the first time.” This is a message that, as educators, we can entrench within our students as they approach the challenges of each day, build the skill set necessary for post-secondary options, and enter the unforgiving workforce. It can also become the foundation and standard for our own professional practice.
In a world where a sense of entitlement has seemingly emerged as a widespread character trait of many students, this motivational mindset has great power and potential. As much as I strongly believe that one should live according to their own individual purpose, holding true to themselves, we cannot underestimate the importance of interpersonal influence. And as educational leaders, working with students and their families requires that we come to the field ‘ready to play’.
Joe saw the power of strong and positive ‘first impressions’. This was one of his ‘non-negotiables’ as it related to his character and his work ethic. The first impression he made on all his fans became lasting impressions (time after time) that continue to endure the test of time.
Do you ‘bring it’ everyday?