On greatness and elevating others

Doug Glanville, the baseball player turned author, described what it was like to play against the men who were recently elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Randy Johnson

What it looked like to bat against Randy Johnson [John Froschauer / Associated Press]

According to Glanville, playing against those great players — in particular, pitcher Randy Johnson — made him into a better player.

Glanville recalls a spring training game, very early in his career, when he hit a triple off Johnson. His confidence soared as a result: “at a young age,” he writes, “I had a tangible baseball result to go with my faith in my ability.”

He concludes by observing that “true greatness means more than a chain of personal bests. It also means bringing out the best in others — teammates and, maybe even more so, opponents.”

I never was an athlete. But I’ve long understood that I play my best when competing against opponents who are really good, no matter what the game: tennis, bowling, chess. I didn’t fully understood why, though, until I read Glanville’s article.

It’s the same in my professional life. While I don’t compete against other technical communicators, I know that I’m inspired and challenged when colleagues do really good work. Sometimes I just admire their work and try to pattern mine after it. But more often, something in my gut wells up and says If they can do that, then by golly so can I. And it’s game on.

So, thank you to my tech comm colleagues who are the best of the best. (You probably know who you are.) You bring out the best in me.

And what about you? Have you benefited from working with the luminaries in our profession? Tell me about in the comments.

Incidentally, if you want to see some of the best work being done in tech comm, consider becoming a judge in this year’s STC International Summit Awards competition. You’ll be inspired and challenged by the material you get to judge, and also by the people (co-judges) who work alongside you.

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