Vision and Passion

It is always nice to be able to see a feel-good movie like “42,” the story of how the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. Apart from being well-produced, the film focuses on two important themes that were essential to the real-life people the actors portrayed.

The first is that a good leader must have vision: the ability to see something that has not yet been created or accomplished. Dodgers executive Branch Rickey saw the future of integration in sports, but needed someone who could withstand the inevitable criticism and cynicism. Whenever there is something new, many instinctively resist the change. Rickey found the perfect personality in Robinson to help advance his vision.

Robinson, meanwhile, had the second ingredient: the passion. He loved playing baseball, and that love and passion was what allowed him to weather the barrage of negativity and vitriol. Naturally it helped that he had a strong character and did not publicly fight back.

Rickey and Robinson changed sports forever. And Robinson’s quote transcends the game of baseball: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

The Leadership Coach is Peter Burwash, president of Peter Burwash International, which manages tennis instruction programs worldwide. His books are available through the Media Zone. He can be reached at