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"The bike stopped. Larry didn't. He sailed through the air, plummeted down a ravine, and hit a tree trunk - with his face.

Thanks Joe

July 15th 2011

The human will is the one thing that has triumphed against unbelievable odds. Successful people all have this universal strength of character. As you will read in Today's Story; sometimes that human will needs a little nudge to put it in motion. This brings us to the great character trait of successful people -- the "nudger."

You carry a torch that allows you to see through the darkness and know when someone around you needs your encouragement. From time-to-time, it will be you who is called upon to say, "You Can Do It!" This may be to a customer, a colleague, family member or possibly a complete stranger. Below is an example of this character trait.

Mr. Baseball

"Beer, getcha ice-cold beer," echoed through Yankee Stadium. Peanuts, popcorn, and a zillion other smells wafted over the warm summer breeze as the crowd roared expectantly.

There was the man -- long, lean Joltin' Joe DiMaggio -- coming up to the plate; an unlikely hero for a demure little girl like me. Yet the Yankee Clipper went on to gain top spot in my personal Hall of Fame.

Years later, our fourteen-year-old son Larry made honor roll, became a hometown baseball star, and started avidly collecting baseball trivia. The sport ruled his life, and everyone just knew this kid would make it to the majors. No doubt about it.

We were a baseball family back then. Three or four evenings a week, plus weekends, we'd all rush through an early dinner and head out to the ballpark for games or practice.

Larry cheerfully took a job that summer that would help him reach another goal - buying a ten-speed bike. In spite of my concerns, he turned on his smiling charm and convinced me that our Connecticut hills required all those speeds. As usual with this lovable kid, I caved. He seemed so strong - so indestructible.

One afternoon, Larry took off on his beloved new bike for a quick swim before going to work. He never took that swim. He never arrived at work.

Coming down a hilly, curvy road, Larry and the bide hit a pile of sand. The bike stopped. Larry didn't. He sailed through the air, plummeted down a ravine, and hit a tree trunk - with his face.

Larry broke every bone in his skull, as well as most bones in his face. Helmets for cyclists were unheard of back then.

A month or so later, after several surgeries, including a craniotomy, by boy cam home. He walked into the house - a tall, bald, and disfigured skeleton went into his room, and shut the door.

Our family's collective heart broke as the days and weeks went by. Other than visits to various doctors, Larry never ventured out. He didn't allow his friends in. It seemed as though his spirit had died.

The neurosurgeon told Larry, "No more contact sports, son, other than baseball, that is." Horrified that he would encourage my son to more risk, I questioned his reasoning. The doctor wisely explained, "While playing ball might be dangerous for Larry, to take away that part of his life could be worse."

As the months passed, I found myself wanting him to play ball, as box by box and folder by folder, Larry's baseball treasures came out of his room. "Throw these away," he'd mumble through wired jaws, "I don't want them anymore."

Late one afternoon, a close neighbor came by to see our reclusive son. As the father of his best friend, Russ was allowed into his increasingly private sanctuary. A short while later, Larry came bounding down the hall. "Mom! Dad!" he called excitedly. "Look at this, will ya?"

He held up a large autographed photograph of Joe DiMaggio. "I'm gonna show this to Jimmy and Mike." With that, he dashed out of the house and ran over the hill to find his buddies - for the first time in months.

Bewildered and amazed at the sudden turn of events, I couldn't wait to hear what had happened. We sat down as Russ, a private jet pilot for a business magnate, explained his latest flight. His only passenger that day had turned out to be Joe DiMaggio.

During the flight, Russ told the famous center fielder all about our son. After landing, and while still on the tarmac, Joe stopped, opened his briefcase, took out a photograph of himself, inscribed, "Hang in there, kid, you can do it," and handed it over to Russ. Russ watched a single tear roll down Joe's face.

One compassionate droplet for an unknown boy's hopes and dreams - just one moment in a famous athlete's busy life - generated a glorious rebirth for our son.

Once out of his shell, Larry went on to play baseball, attend college, and marry. He now has children of his own. The photograph of Joe still hangs in Larry's bedroom wall and smiles down at him every night. Every night Larry smiles back.

By Lynne Layton Zielinski

One of the greatest traits you can develop within yourself is the ability to recognize others needs and to take action on their behalf. First, that would be Russ who recognized the need of a neighborhood boy and took the time to look for a way that he could help. Secondly, it was Joe who took the time to respond.

We can be a part of something great when we encourage and inspire another person to believe that they can beat the odds and that nothing is impossible. There are many big things that were thought to be impossible throughout history. Fore example, the American colonies were drastically outnumbered by the British army. Their chances of winning their independence - Impossible. Putting a man on the moon - Impossible. The Red Sox winning the World Series - Impossible. But, they all happened.

There are everyday things that can seem impossible. To one of your children it may seem that passing math is impossible. To a client, it may seem impossible that they will be able to solve the problem to which they are in your place of business looking for answers. It may be a colleague who needs your encouragement as they work through a seemingly impossible project.

Another example of this idea is provided by 'The Foundation for a Better Life' through the video Everyday Heroes.  Please take 60 seconds to watch this video and then return to read the last paragraph of today's message.

Like Russ, Joe and Mrs. Crandle, you are able to be someone who is prepared to encourage and show the way. It is possible and you can be instrumental in cheering those around you on to victory. This is another key character trait that is at the very core of great customer service. Remember:

"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up." John Andrew Holmes Jr.