I was at a dinner for the National Speakers Association with my good friend Harvey Mackay. Harvey told me I had to meet Joe Schmit. He and Joe were both Minnesota guys and Harvey said, “You’re going to Iove Joe’s new book.” I ended up talking to Joe for hours and didn’t want to leave. The guy’s thoughts and ideas were incredible. And Harvey was right, I LOVE his book. Recently I picked up a copy of Silent Impact and I couldn’t put it down. I sat down with Joe to discuss it and this excerpt about Joe Mauer’s impact on the people around him was a must-share. The subject of making a silent impact has caught my attention lately. After all, what’s more important than making an impact on the people around you? So, stayed tuned for more news about making a silent impact later in the week.
When Joe Mauer, All-Star catcher for the Minnesota Twins and 2009 American League MVP, was going to Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, MN, in the late 90’s, he was the BMOC (Big Man on Campus.) Joe was tall, handsome, and one of the most talented high school athletes in Minnesota history. He was offered a full-ride scholarship to play quarterback at Florida State, he was an All-State guard in basketball, and he was the best high school baseball player in the country. Drafted first by the Minnesota Twins in 2001, Joe Mauer is the only catcher in MLB history to win three batting titles.
In every lunchroom in every high school in the nation, there is a “cool” table where the coolest of the school eat lunch. Whether you sat there or not, you know it’s true. Joe Mauer earned a seat at that table, but Joe didn’t choose that table. You see, every day, Joe Mauer chose to sit with a classmate who was blind. As a matter of fact, Joe walked Mike Hally from his 4th hour class to the lunchroom and after lunch, Joe walked him to his next class. Mike is a kid who could have been ignored or shunned because of his disability, but Joe made him one of the cool kids. Imagine the impact it had on Joe’s friends and other students at the high school. The ripple effect of Joe Mauer’s actions in high school is even more impactful now, given Joe’s rise to athletic fame. We make our biggest impressions when we are not trying to be impressive. I call this our “Silent Impact.”
Over a decade has passed since Joe Mauer invited Mike Halley to sit at a table filled with popular athletes in high school, but the impact is still being felt today. Mike says that no matter how many all-star games or batting titles Joe Mauer wins, he will always think of Joe as a better person than athlete. “The act broke down barriers. It gave me confidence to meet other people. Joe taking me to lunch was a sign to all the other athletes that it was ok to be my friend,” Mike recalled.
One of the best days of the week in the lunchroom was pizza day. Brian Bohlig remembers that after lunch, Joe would make sure that Mike did not have any crumbs on his shirt and would even take a napkin and wipe his face if there was some pizza sauce on it. “Before we realized it, everyone was doing it. Mike just became one of the guys. I just remember that we laughed a lot,” Brian recalls. He added, “It was an incredible learning experience. Joe just cared about other people. It was always about them and not about him.”
Mike Halley could not see, but you don’t need 20-20 vision to see that Joe Mauer is an impact player both on and off the field. I asked Joe why he took Mike to lunch every day. His answer was simple, yet powerful: “Because it was the right thing to do.”
Imagine for a moment that you could commission a personal Mt. Rushmore to be carved on your behalf. Who would you name as the four most influential people in your life? Who had such a monumental influence on you that the arc of your life was literally changed because of him or her? You might include a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a friend, or even an enemy because of how he or she impacted your life.
Joe Mauer is on Mike Hally’s Mount Rushmore of Influence. Think this over. Who is on your Mount Rushmore of Influence and why are they there? My guess is that they had a silent impact on your life.
About Joe Schmit
Joe Schmit is an emmy-award winning sportscaster, keynote speaker and author. His book, Silent Impact: Stories of Influence through Purpose, Persistence and Passion is available at www.joeschmit.com.