“I don’t take any day for granted. Maybe this is a lot to ask, but here’s what I look for every day: I look for meaning, I look for joy and I look for beauty, and I welcome any interaction with people that helps to support that. As trite and corny as it sounds, I’ve got to grab what I can each day.” – Michael Weiner
These words appeared in an article dated November 21, 2012. ESPN columnist, Jerry Crasnick, wrote a story about Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, describing his life, his courage, and his willingness to continue to work after his August 2012 diagnosis of stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive form of primary malignant brain tumors. His brain cancer was inoperable, and his prognosis was about a year.
Yesterday, exactly one year from the date of the article and fifteen months after his diagnosis, Michael Weiner passed away. Since that moment, my Twitter timeline has seen article after article linked and offering tribute to him. Players and agents have offered their thanks for the work he did on their behalf along with expressing their touching sympathies in his passing. To them, he was their ambassador, their colleague, their friend.
I never knew Michael Weiner, or even had the privilege of a brief meeting (though given that we are both attorneys who passionately love baseball, we may been cut from the same cloth, albeit a rather large one). I had only heard him speak through my television as a result of any number of interviews he had conducted over the years with regard to his work as the head of baseball’s union. And, I am familiar with his work only because I have read cover-to-cover all of the different MLB Collective Bargaining Agreements that have been entered into over the past fifteen to twenty years. I did not know a lot about him, but I always came away impressed.
However, as I spent much of my morning reading just about every article that I could get my hands on, regarding the life and legacy of Michael Weiner, I now know why. If I could encourage you to do one thing today, it would be to read a few of those articles (here and here, you will find a couple of the exceptional ones) and learn something from his life.
The recurring theme is not only a brilliant legal mind and tireless worker to stabilize the game as well as advance it, but also the kindest, most honest, most humble, and most decent man that many people have ever known. Sprinkle all that with a heavy dose of remarkable courage.
Perhaps, the behavior I have come to respect the most from Michael Weiner was the fact that he treated the 25th (or last) man on the roster exactly the same as the high paid superstar. He knew that his job was to fight for each player, and in order for him to do that job successfully, he developed personal relationships with them. He knew their stories; he listened to their concerns; and perhaps most importantly, he genuinely cared about each and every one of them.
We can do this in our own life. We often choose to hang with the popular crowd because it will make us look cool, or we only care about topics and stories that are interesting to us. Think about people that we tend to look over or talk over, people to which we do not give the time of day, people whom we feel annoy us or bother us. We cut them off, write them off, or blow them off. Have you ever thought that maybe they just want someone to listen to them, to care about them, to remember them?
We all have an extra five to ten minutes to listen to their stories, to ask a question, to show an interest. For you, it may be a small inconvenience. To them, it could be make their day.
Personally, in the times where I do make the effort to listen and choose not to be selfish or feel bothered, I actually learn a thing or two about something that I did not previously know. Plus, I recognize and appreciate when someone takes a few minutes to listen to one of my stories when they may not want to do so.
As I was briefly discussing Michael Weiner’s life and legacy with Aaron this morning, he posed the question: Makes you want to make sure people end up talking about you like that, huh?
It is not too late. Make someone’s day. Show an interest in another’s story. Find the meaning, the joy, and the beauty in today. Welcome those who help you do the same. And, by all means, do yourself a favor and grab everything out of today that you can.
That is the legacy of Michael Weiner, a courageous, honorable leader, a decent, honest man.
Bring your best today!