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This week’s installment of our leadership and success series focuses on motivation as playing a vital role in becoming a leader as well as in the attainment of success. We turn to one of baseball’s greatest players – Ty Cobb, nicknamed “The Georgia Peach” for his small town beginnings in Royston, Georgia , to exemplify this rule.

Some pundits will argue that Ty Cobb was the greatest player of all time. Cobb had the stats to back it up and, considering his storied, combative nature, was apparently willing to do so. Not to turn this blog into a statistical haven but certain stats do deserve mention. Cobb won the American League batting crown 12 times, including 9 years running, from 1907 through 1915. He batted over.400 three times, including .420 in 1911. He hit, ran, and stormed his way to the highest lifetime batting average ever achieved of any major league player, .367, accumulated over his 24 years in the Major Leagues, a record that still endures following his retirement in 1928 and will likely continue to endure for many more years. The charter edition of baseball’s hall of fame in 1936 saw Cobb, one of the 5 players to be elected, receive the highest votes cast for induction, four short of unanimity, even outpolling Babe Ruth.

Cobb was extraordinarily talented, but the woods are full of talented derelicts. So, what made him achieve his greatness? Undoubtedly, it was his motivation. Earlier in Cobb’s life, his father, William Herschel Cobb, had been strongly skeptical of his son’s pursuit of baseball as a living, demeaning it as “the folly of baseball.” But he ultimately relented to his son’s entreaties accompanied by the stern admonition, “Don’t come home a failure.” This warning seems innocuous enough. But the development of extenuating circumstances which beset him later on the eve of his departure to the major leagues undoubtedly played a major part in his motivation to succeed.

Cobb had been an outstanding minor league player while playing for the Augusta, Georgia Tourists in the South Atlantic or ”Sally” League, among the lower echelons of the minor leagues. His play was duly noted, however, by scouts of major league teams that frequented his games. Ultimately, his contract was purchased by the American League’s Detroit Tigers for $700 and he was scheduled to report in late August, 1905.

But the pall of a horrific family tragedy engulfed him at home and shadowed him to Detroit. Cobb’s mother had shot his father to death only a short time earlier, on August 8, 1905. His mother, a pretty woman, had been suspected of taking a lover. His father, attempting to enter a bedroom window of their home, was shot gunned by his mother who apparently believed it was a burglar attempting to break in. A revolver was later found on the body. Cobb’s mother, later charged with voluntary manslaughter, was acquitted. On August 30, 1905, a mere three weeks after his father’s death, Cobb debuted in center field for the Detroit Tigers, rapping a double in four trips to the plate off the New York Highlanders’ (officially renamed The New York Yankees in 1913) ace spitballer, Jack Chesbro, who had won an amazing 41 games the year before. It was the first of 3,032 games for Cobb before his 1928 retirement.

Noted writer Charles C. Alexander wrote that after retirement Cobb claimed his father was the greatest man he ever knew. And Cobb’s biographer, Al Stump, wrote that at his request, after death, he was entombed in the family mausoleum in Royston, Georgia, where it all began, in a chamber directly across from his father’s.

Cobb’s relentless pursuit of success in baseball may well have grown out of the close relationship he had enjoyed with his father, but he was undoubtedly also driven by the haunting memories of his father’s tragic and untimely death, all of which provided a special motivation for him. Whatever the source, strong motivation clearly plays a key role for anyone aspiring to success as a leader.

Watch for my new book, “The Pearl Harbor Congressional Cover Up”, coming soon.  It will feature leadership failures at the highest level of government.
Arnold G. Regardie

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Clear Writing Requires Well Constructed Paragraphs

It’s my first anniversary for publishing this blog!  The first post was made January 22, 2012.  So, in honor of that event, my topic to illustrate the benefits of good paragraphing is one of my favorite subjects – baseball.

Paragraphs allow the reader to take a breath while continuing to read.  Without them, a reader  would face the daunting task of having to read and decide simultaneously when there is a change of thought or subject.                                

Clear writing flows directly from well composed paragraphing.  The effectiveness of any writing will depend directly on how well you have constructed the paragraphs.  All paragraphs should be unified in thought, well organized, and coherent.

Paragraphs may be long or short.  Moderation and common sense are keys to good paragraphing.  If a paragraph is too short, the reader may conclude the writer has given little thought to the writing.  If it’s too long, the reader may simply get discouraged.


Paragraphs May Be Used For Different Purposes

          There are distinct types of writing available for specific purposes, including persuasive, expository, narrative, creative, descriptive, research, and (book) reporting.  Paragraphing does not of necessity completely follow the type of writing you are using, but may vary within the main body of the document being written, depending on the context.

Two main groups of paragraphs exist, narrative and descriptive.  Other forms of paragraphing may have different identifying labels placed on them, such as chronologic, compare and contrast, definition, and others, but it is simpler to place them in one of the two main categories.

For example, a chronologic or progressive paragraph is so-called because of its orderly progression from one point to another, often following a time sequence.  But it’s still descriptive or narrative in nature.  Describing a fishing technique or a golf swing are good examples of the use of such a paragraph.

Expository writing is used to provide information.  Here is an example involving a famous baseball player and the fatal disease which took his life.

Silently, New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig handed over the unopened ketchup bottle to teammate Bill Dickey.  There was nothing complicated about it, to unscrew the cap of a ketchup bottle.  Even a child could do it.  But Gehrig no longer had the strength in his hands to even handle this simple task.  Troubled by an uncertain future, he munched his hamburger and stared out the window of the speeding train as it headed toward the next exhibition game.

It was spring, 1939.  In recent months Gehrig had noticed a puzzling diminution in his strength.  Last year his batting average had dipped below .300 for the first time in years.  And when he did hit a home run it wasn’t hit with the usual Gehrig authority.   Some shrugged it off as creeping old age.   But there were signs that something was seriously wrong.  Earlier that year a teammate had complemented Gehrig on making a routine out.  Soon it became clear even to a casual observer that he could no longer hit or play his position.

Gehrig was experiencing the onset of the debilitating disease which ultimately was to bear his name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, known medically as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or simply ALS.   It would progressively render his muscles useless but leave his mind intact.  On May 1, 1939, Gehrig voluntarily removed himself from the Yankee lineup, bringing to an end his consecutive game streak of 2,130 games, a record which stood for the next 70 years.  The press had justifiably dubbed him “The Iron Horse” because of his durability.  He was forced to retire from the game on June 27, 1939.

Gehrig had been a devastating hitter during his years in the Yankee lineup.  With Babe Ruth batting in front of him, the duo had formed a key part of “Murderers Row,” which terrorized opposing pitching during the mid-1920s to mid- 1930s, possibly the most famous 1-2 punch in baseball history.  The number of times Gehrig came to bat with the bases loaded is not known, but what is known is that he cleared them 23 times with “grand slam” home runs, still a major league record, and quite an amazing feat considering who was batting ahead of him in the lineup.

His feats on the baseball diamond had not gone unnoticed.   Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day was held in Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.  In front of a sell-out crowd, surrounded by his teammates and others, Gehrig gave his memorable “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.  Later that year, the stricken player was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Barely two years later, on June 2, 1941, shortly before his 38th birthday, the  disease was to tragically take the Hall of Famer’s life.

The important thing to remember from all these clear writing posts is that words are powerful things.  You can learn how to harness this power by following my clear writing tips.  They are tried and tested.  They work.  Words can persuade people.  They can improve a company’s performance.  They can be very helpful when used properly.  Learn how to craft powerful messages – it’s a skill which will open doors for you that you never knew existed.      


 Copyright©2013.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved. 


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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, history, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement

If You Want To Write, Write! Also, Cy Young History Is Noted.

In today’s world of global communications, the ability to write clearly is more important than ever before. It is a requirement for anyone trying to get ahead.  Without that ability you have little chance to inform or persuade others.  Unclear writing is a waste of both time and money.  Your success will depend on how well you express yourself.

I’ve heard many people over the years lament that they can’t write.  What they really mean is that they can’t write well, but want to.  My standard reply has been, and still is, you can write well if you just try. In my eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com/kindlebooks, but soon to be available in print as well), I emphasize that clear writing is an art form, meaning it can be learned but you have to work at it.  The guidelines and techniques explained in my eBook have been tried and tested.  They are reliable but require dedication and practice on your part.  The result should be a marked improvement in your writing.

The starting point is to develop confidence in your ability to write well.  The secret to clear writing is practice, practice, practice.   Discipline yourself to sit down every day and just write something.  Pick a subject you know well or feel strongly about, and write it up. Pretend you’re writing a letter to yourself, to a family member, or to a good friend.  Then show your writing to someone you trust to have it critiqued.  Work on whatever areas you feel need attention, whether it’s spelling, punctuation, grammar, or anything else.  The idea is to build confidence in your writing, which can only come with increased writing experience.

Everyone likes a good story.  If the situation permits, tell a story in your writing, whether it’s about a trip you took, someone you know, or some other personal experience.    You can also learn to add sound and color to your writing to make it more interesting.  It’s all about finding the right words to make your writing come alive.  Merely stating facts without some expression of emotion will discourage a reader.

In addition to the discipline of writing every day, you should also read extensively.  Read articles and books written by experienced writers.  Train your eye to observe how they construct sentences and paragraphs.  This is learning by word association, also advocated in my eBook.  Reading will help you in many ways including the development of good grammar, the acquisition of a strong vocabulary, and learning correct punctuation.

Bear in mind that you are promoting yourself when you write.  Poor writing will lead to loss of credibility including possible loss of job opportunities and career advancement.  For businesses it will lead to reduced sales and lower profits.  Good writing sells itself.  If you learn to write clearly, it will also help the economy by adding your writing talents to the work force.


Who Was Cy Young Anyway?

Now that the presidential election is behind us, and as a change of pace, I thought it might be interesting to focus on another important selection process which is almost upon us, major league baseball’s annual Cy Young award.  This award is presented annually by the Baseball Writers Association of America to the pitcher in each league, American and National, who is determined to have been most deserving of it based on the winner’s pitching performance for the year.  With the award due to be presented November 14, let’s take a brief look at the background of its namesake.

Cy Young was a major league pitcher who won 511 games during his career, more than any other pitcher.  He also lost 316, more than any other pitcher.  He pitched for 21 years, from 1890 to 1911.  His real name was Denton True Young, the nickname “Cy” having been coined by an observer early in Young’s career when he saw the pitcher’s fastball break a wooden fence. The observer commented that the fence looked as if it had been hit by a cyclone, and the nickname stuck.

His career transcended both the American and National Leagues.  The teams he pitched for in the National League, the Cleveland Spiders and the St. Louis Browns, are no longer active.  The two American League teams he played for, the Boston Americans and the Cleveland Naps, are now known as the Red Sox and  Indians, respectively.

During the first three years of his career, the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate was 55 feet, 6 inches, 5 feet less than the current 60 feet, six inches, arrived at in 1893.  He won 72 games during that period.

Cy Young was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1937.  Two other pitchers, elected in 1936, were charter members:   Walter Johnson, who won 414 games for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927, and Christy Mathewson, who won 373 games from 1900 to 1916, primarily for John McGraw’s New York Giants.

Copyright © 2012. Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, history, punctuation, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement