- 2002 10 Oct
People who make a difference in this world are common folks with uncommon enthusiasm and uncompromising focus. There is a monument in England dedicated to the sport of rugby and in honor of a young man whose enthusiasm go the best of him. The statue depicts a boy bending down to pick up a ball. The inscription at the base of the statue says: With a fine disregard for the rules, he picked up the ball and ran. The statue tells the story of a rugby match between two British schools. The schools were cross-town rivals so the intensity of the game was never a disappointment to anyone who came to watch.
During the closing minutes of the match, a young man was sent into the game for the first time that day. As soon as the coach called his name he bolted from the bench to get in the game, which happened to be all tied up at the time.
Unfortunately, the youngster was armed with more enthusiasm and school spirit than experience. Forgetting all the rules, he picked up the ball and started the sprint of his life toward the goal line! Now touching the ball with your hands during this portion of the game was against the rules, but that didn't seem to even cross his mind. The officials and other players stood motionless. They didn't quite know how to respond because picking up the ball and running like this was so far out of line for a rugby match.
Some kids laughed...some pointed and screamed something about the rules...others started to chase him down the field, but the parents and spectators loved it! The boy had hardly run ten yards when most of the crowd had already stood to their feet. As the boy's competitors began to chase him, the people in the stands started yelling and cheering for the youngster to run faster! Suddenly, the rules were irrelevant and it was a race to the goal line. As the boy sprinted across the goal line he threw his arms into the air signifying victory. By the time he scored the goal the crowd was so moved by the boy's spirit that the parents on both sides gave him a standing ovation.
The inscription says, "With a fine disregard for the rules he picked up the ball and ran." That boy's enthusiasm and uncompromising focus eclipsed every other memory from the day's game. It was on that day that a new sport was born: football. Football wasn't the invention of NFL officials setting down in a boardroom and hammering out the rules. Football wasn't born because a couple of college presidents got together to figure out a way to boost school spirit and revenue. Football was born because of a boy's enthusiastic mistake.
King Solomon was perhaps the wisest man who ever lived. He put it like this, "Whatever you do, do it with all your might." Business expert Tom Peters claimed that, "enthusiasm is the most highly rewarded commodity in the marketplace today." In a culture where so many people are content to just get by, a young boy's enthusiastic mistake, the advice of one of today's great business minds, and the timeless wisdom of Solomon are a great reminder that the people who make a difference in this world are common folks with uncommon enthusiasm and uncompromising focus. Whatever you do, do it with all you've got.