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What I Learned from Armando Galarraga

I’m sure by now you’ve probably seen the horrible call from Jim Joyce that stole a perfect pitch game from Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers. Galarraga pitched a perfect twenty-six straight outs against the Cleveland Indians. On his twenty-seventh pitch, the hit was good to left center field, and was fielded as Galarraga made his way to first base for the catch. The battle for first base then ensued with Galarraga making the catch (and therefore, the out) a whole step before the hitter made it to first base. Unfortunately, for Galarraga, the first-base coach, Jim Joyce, called the runner safe and Galarraga’s perfect game was history. But this is not where the real story ends. In fact, the real story just begins at this point.

Charles R. Swindoll once said that “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” On that fateful Wednesday night in June, Galarraga was a living testament toward life and attitude. Where most would have stomped, shouted, argued, cajoled, whined, cursed, or resorted to violence, Galarraga just smiled. Jim Joyce ended up apologizing for the bad call. He was responsible and took accountability. Something that all leaders, or for that matter all people, can learn a little more about doing. Galarraga said that Joyce was human and that we all make mistakes. He said he was disappointed but that things happen. He was the epitome of sportsmanship and his attitude made me think of how employees react to certain situations at work and how we can all learn a life lesson from this experience.

I will take Galarraga’s attitude with me as a vision of what I would like my attitude to be. In the face of adversity and change, I will wear a smile on my face. When things seem too tough to handle and there is no end in sight, I will wear a smile on my face. When I feel like crying or screaming, I will plaster a smile on my face and keep it moving. Life will present its share of challenges and upheavals but if we can learn to smile (and maybe even laugh) in spite of these things, life may somehow be a little bit better for all of us. And in the end, anything that can make our outlook on life and our view on the future a bit better is a win in my book.