Bill Clinton, Joe Thiesmann, and Abraham Lincoln.
An interesting trilogy.
On the surface, they don’t have much in common. A couple of former presidents, all famous, all very inspirational.
And I was lucky enough to meet all three within 30 days.
(OK, I know, Lincoln is dead, but through the magic and the teamwork of another unlikely and interesting trilogy, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Allan Spielberg, (since we’re going with middle names here) – Lincoln has recently been resurrected.)
I met Bill Clinton at a rally here in North Dakota for Heidi Heitkamp. (OK, I didn’t actually meet him. I was, however standing next to Downtown Dad, who did get a handshake and a fist bump as a result of my waving like a madwoman antics, so I think here, among friends I can say I met him.)
Clinton’s speech was like a great concert. He doesn’t talk TO the audience, he talks WITH you. At a time when I was troubled by the great conflict between the two parties, point by point, he very respectfully and convincingly explained the opposing messages as only a former president with a deep understanding of policy and politics could.
I met Joe Theismann at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon called Voices of Vision. I honestly didn’t want to go. All I knew was that this big lunk was a quarterback and he supplied me with the grossest moment I’d ever seen when his leg was broken on live TV. And I don’t even watch sports, OK, I was watching THAT game in 1985 for some reason.
This guy had my attention. I’m pretty sure this is what they mean when people talk about “locker room speeches.” They are loud. But in a good way. Theismann’s speech was like a rock concert. I was a little surprised that this jock knew so much about corporate politics. At a time when my department is in the midst of a reorganization, I found some real inspirational ideals to hold on to. In the end, I guess it really is all about teamwork.
My meeting with Lincoln was a little different. A little more personal. It was in the telegraph office where he’s about to send a message to General Grant. The setting of this scene is pitch perfect. Almost a metaphor in itself. It opens with him sitting there, hat in hand, the two telegraph operators waiting for him to tell them what to transmit, — leaning toward him — as if to say “listen, something important is going to happen here!”
Lincoln then muses half to himself and half to the boys about Euclid’s theory of Equality. He says things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. He says Euclid calls that a self evident truth. Then, appearing to make a mental note about that he continues on about equality, and self evident truths. It’s a beautiful scene.
These three men’s ability to whittle down complex issues to one key principle, or a central idea, directly spoke to me, and inspired me this past month.
What has inspired you?