Cal Ripken Jr. played professional baseball over 21 years for the Baltimore Orioles, earning 19 trips to the All-Star Game. He hit hundreds of home runs, won a World Series and also won awards for both hitting and fielding. And, like no baseball player before him, Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games.
Can you imagine the mental and physical stresses inherent to playing any sport at its highest level? Now consider those factors over the course of a 162-game season, year after year. How many days must he have been sore, sick or hurt? But he just kept on showing up, talking very little and doing quite a bit.
Bottom line: Cal Ripken Jr. was faithful to himself in terms of actually doing something with his talents. Most people let their greatness rot on the vine through denial, lack of appreciation or misapplication. Ripken can’t be found in this crowd.
Even after his retirement, Ripken continues to impact the world. The Uncompromised don’t retire from life. They may shift their careers or lifestyles, but they rely on The Standards of Enthusiasm, Courage, Endurance and Integrity as the foundation to live by.
And so it is for Ripken. What is he up to since “retiring”? For starters, he’s a New York Times best-selling author of five books, and he’s a highly sought professional speaker.
But Ripken has gone far beyond the book-and-speaking circuit of retired celebrities. Leveraging his fame, Ripken has raised and personally donated millions of dollars for various causes. He started the Kelly and Cal Ripken Jr. Foundation, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and, along with a few other pro athletes, Athletes for Hope. These organizations, as well as other partnerships, were created to help Ripken give back to the community. His efforts have funded numerous causes, including literacy in disadvantaged youth in Baltimore, character-building for children worldwide--even animal shelters.
If his busy philanthropic efforts weren’t impressive enough, Ripken also owns Ripken Baseball, which is organized to run for-profit business as well as all of his philanthropic efforts. Through Ripken Baseball, he owns three Minor League Baseball teams, a sports complex design and consulting firm, baseball camps, baseball tournaments and a sports memorabilia company.
Yet even this wasn’t enough to keep Ripken busy, and so he has undertaken other roles as well. He has been the commissioner of the White House Tee Ball Initiative, for instance, through which he promoted teamwork and community volunteerism. And in 2007, he was named a Special Sports Envoy (ambassador) for the U.S. State Department. In this capacity, he’s been to China and Nicaragua, and in November 2011 he’ll go to Japan to teach teambuilding, continue to develop diplomatic relations and show how sports can play an important role in overcoming adversity.
People struggle to discover their purpose. They lament that they have no opportunities like Ripken or someone else they see as having been blessed or lucky. But it’s convenient for us to believe that we’d be capable of great things in our lives “if only…”
Liberation comes when you realize you already have everything you need to build your own incredible legacy. It’s time for each of us to do and be our best (and not compromise) in whatever we do--from parenting to our profession, from exercising to self-reflection--and leverage The Standards as we follow Ripken’s lead in living The Uncompromised version of our own lives.