What a surprise!
Derek Jeter is not only a hall-of-fame shortstop who makes the time to help the elderly cross Fifth Avenue, the guy also knows how to write.
When I say “knows how to write,” I don’t mean in the literary sense or with storytelling techniques. If my high school English teacher Mr. Harper, got his hands on the letter, I’m guessing a B- with plenty of red ink.
But what Jeter accomplished in the narrative is just as difficult as what comes from any best-selling author —
He wrote from the heart. This emotional truth comes out to anyone reading the letter.
Obviously, a team of advisers guides Jeter on all aspects of business, including image-building. While I’m sure they served as a sanity check for the letter, the energy emanating from the words is so pronounced, leaving no doubt in my mind that Jeter himself crafted the words.
There are few passages starting with the opener worth highlighting (entire letter at the end of the post):
I want to start by saying thank you.
There’s beauty in simplicity.
Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were fun had started to become a struggle.
In this graph, he cuts to the heart of the matter. Also keeps a conversational tone not allowing the “editor” to polish phrases like “a bunch of injuries.”
This can be a tough, invasive, critical and demanding environment. The people of this city have high expectations and are anxious to see them met. But it’s those same people who who have challenged me, cheered for me, beat me down and picked me back up all at the same time. NY made me stronger, kept me more focused and made me a better, more well-rounded person.
Feels like there’s a cathartic release in this passage, almost a preacher-like rhetoric.
He closes with his plan to:
Soak in every moment of every day this year.
So Jeter periodically talks/writes in cliches. Again, the bar isn’t Hemingway. The bar is realness.
I’d say his letter is as real as it gets (original letter on Jeter’s Facebook page with a copy below).
Note: One of the best open letters in recent memory came from the Groupon CEO Andrew Mason when the Board forced his resignation. As for the worse, hard to top Toyota’s open letter which hit a pothole.