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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

TLC Blog – We Can Do Something

No Podemos hacer todo, pero podemos hacer algo.

I’m learning Spanish! I wish I had learned it when I was young. But I didn’t. Now I’m forty years older than when I learned Japanese in college. I am committed to being fluent in five years. We’ll see how my brain cells hold up. My wife and daughter are fluent in Spanish and it’s time I learned since our daughter has been living in Spanish speaking cultures since graduating from college and there are so many Spanish speakers on our staff and among campers. Now that I have announced I am learning, my daughter has informed me she intends to move to Turkey. WHAAAAAAT????

Undaunted, I press on.

No Podemos hacer todo, pero podemos hacer algo. We can’t do everything, but we can do something.

Do you wish you could serve like Serena and drop shot like Djokovic and defend like Coco and move like Alcarez?

Well, you can’t.

We wish a lot of things. We want to be everything.

How many of you wish you could eradicate all bigotry, ignorance, cruelty, injustice, fear of those who are different from you?

Well, you can’t.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something.

Here is my challenge to you, which I believe I visited in a previous blog in a different context. Do what Steve Wilkinson said to me when I was playing against him and said, “I wish I had your pinpoint precision.” Then I said, “Tell me the weaknesses I should work on to get better.”

Steve said, “Work on your strengths.” I said, “How are my weaknesses going to get better if I work on my strengths?” He said, “Work on your strengths.” He talked in circles sometimes. So, I said, “Seriously, how do I get my weaknesses better?” He said,” Work on your strengths.”

He said, “Your strength is setting up your winners with your slice that slides through the court, and when you get a shorter ball hitting a topspin crosscourt short angle winner. So work on setting up your opponent in situations where you can get to that put away shot that you are really good at. Perfecting your strengths is the best way for your weaknesses to tag along and raise their level.”

Then years ago, I was preparing for TLC summer, and I was struggling with what my summer talks were going to be. I wanted to impress with facts at the tip of my tongue, to put together a lecture on the finest points and minutia in a way that a professor would wow even the most educated crowd. And I was failing. Miserably. Plus, I felt like an imposter.

I lamented this fact to Steve saying I wish I was more like him (he actually was a World Religions professor before starting TLC). Steve, in one instant, changed the way I looked at my life, my music career, my tennis game. He said, “Neal, that’s not why I hired you. For your talks, I hired you for your ability to tell stories and write and sing songs and communicate in a way I cannot. I wish I could, but I can’t. That’s why you are here. You do you, I’ll do me, and we are both much better together because of it.” I threw my plans in the garbage and went with my strengths. And I was happy. And I had something to offer.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something.

Finally, when it comes to the world we live in, we are made to feel like we must engage in every cause to make the world better. I am aware that climate change threatens human existence and is probably the crisis of our century. But I am passionate about gender equity and LGBTQ+ rights. I can support and cheer on those who are working to address our children’s and grandchildren’s futures through climate work, but if I had to do that work, I would be miserable. I am energized by gender rights. So that’s what I do. And a weight is off.

If I had to do everything, I would actually do nothing. I would be paralyzed. I am fortunate at TLC that everyone on staff has a job and everyone’s job is a little different and everyone’s job is needed for TLC to work as it does. That is not a weakness, that is just being smart, by going with everyone’s strengths as much as possible.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something.

So do your something, I’ll do mine, and we’ll let others do theirs.

No Podemos hacer todo, pero podemos hacer algo. And, as one of my all-time favorite tennis players would add, “Vamos!”


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