Transparency

Transparency
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

For any fan of baseball, of sports in general really, those words mean something. Lou Gehrig, perhaps the greatest first baseman to ever play baseball, is immortalized not only in how he played, but also how he left the game.

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day was held at Yankee Stadium, honoring the first Yankee captain. Only two weeks prior, Gehrig formally announced his retirement due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), something we now call Lou Gehrig's Disease. 

In between games of a double-header, Gehrig was honored by teammates past and present, sportswriters and fans. In a moment of unscripted wisdom, Gehrig uttered a speech that is etched into American sports history.

As I sat this past weekend, enjoying the Fourth of July, family and baseball, I saw several moving tributes to the 75th anniversary of the speech. Every time I hear or read those famous lines, I am moved. In fact, it is difficult for me not to cry. 

Why is this speech so moving? 

In my opinion, in this moment, we are seeing a man at his most transparent. His most vulnerable. His most unconcealed. In this moment, we are seeing Lou Gehrig as he truly is. A man of extreme humility and intense honor. 

"How does this relate to creativity?" You may be asking. 

To be able to move people with our creativity, we must be transparent. Our work must reveal who we are to the viewer. We must be clear. Our thoughts must be easily perceived. In hearing this great speech, we know exactly what Gehrig is feeling. Exactly what his mind is dealing with. 

The same can be said in regards to other great speeches and works. The Gettysburg Address, the "I Have a Dream" speech, the works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. They all have a form of transparency that brings the listener and reader deeper into the work. 

If the audience is able to find a common thread with the artist, the work will mean that much more to them. This thread can only be found if the artist is transparent enough to be seen in their work. 

On that day, 75 years ago, a crowd of 62,000 people knew exactly who Lou Gehrig was. They were his closest friends, without even meeting him. His transparency brought his fans closer to him, and allowed this moment to live on forever.

May I encourage you to allow transparency to infiltrate your work? Will the audience be able to draw closer to you and connect with your work in ways they could not before?

To read a piece about Gehrig's farewell address, as well as to read the speech in it's entirety, read this article by Marty Appel

 

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