On Derek Jeter, Phil Vassar and all of us

Derek Jeter at the New York Yankees vs. Colora...

Derek Jeter, shortstop for the Yankees. Image via Wikipedia

I told a colleague recently that I felt like a shortstop, poised with my glove open, knees bent, head up, waiting for the next hit.  Even though I’ve never played baseball, I do know the feeling of standing ready for the next big thing.  In the publishing industry, everyone must assume such a pose. In that realm, the pitches coming are fast and furious.  Just ask any publisher!

Education, business, the arts, medicine — every sector — is feeling a similar rush. Much has to do with the technology that is changing at the speed of Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman’s pitches. The same can even be said for job hunting!

This morning, I read a letter from a recent graduate, Ted Beidler (’09, music industry). Writing about about an opportunity to work alongside JMU alumnus and country music star Phil Vassar (’85), Ted said: “I had no idea what I was doing, but of course I said yes and learned how to film and edit stuff as I went.  I had a blast, and I guess I did a good job, since I was invited to stay with the tour. Ended up being on the road with them for about six months.” Ted goes on to say how much he learned on the road, and how much his preparation from JMU  helped.

Ted’s experience isn’t unique. Learning on your feet, and perhaps more importantly, being open to stepping out even when you’re not sure of your abilities, is vital in today’s world.  In the “olden days,” education meant getting fully prepared, learning from static — or at least slower-changing — textbooks and more “set” bodies of information. Those days are gone. Driven by changes in communication, the ability to act and to react is more important than ever.   Today, industry, education, every discipline, all parts of our lives require the kind of thinking and learning as you go that Ted experienced. That’s the nature of change — and a secret to accomplishing successful change. It’s what JMU has been about for a long time. Ask any of our Be the Change people, and I’m sure they’ll say that being ready — being poised to see and act is critical to accomplishing change.

It is a brave new world. You’ve got to have your glove ready, just like THE* shortstop, Derek Jeter.

*Thanks to JMU alums Fred Hilton (’96M) and Debbi Long (’04) for their help with my understanding of baseball!


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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