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Reinventing the knuckleball

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Profiles in Leadership

R.A. Dickey’s career was failing. A pitcher in the major leagues, he struggled on the mound. To compensate for a ligament problem in his pitching arm, he was in the midst of reinventing his pitching style.

The struggle came to a head when he decided, unpredictably and recklessly, to swim across the Missouri River. He came close to drowning.

When he emerged, though, he realized that he had a strong desire to live and a great amount of resilience.

Most leaders have this sort of resilience. They tend to hit a roadblock at some point in their lives that stops them cold. The resulting turmoil helps them see what they’re made of. For Dickey, the turmoil led to a sense of inner peace and allowed him to persevere in the sport.

Not only did he reinvent his pitch, he made it something unique—the knuckleball. He’s the only pitcher in the majors who sends a ball flying toward home plate, without knowing exactly where it will go.

— Adapted from “Knuckle down: Leadership lessons from R.A. Dickey,” John Baldoni, CBS MoneyWatch.

Postscript: At the end of the 2012 season, Dickey became the first knuckleballer ever to win the Cy Young Award, baseball's top pitching honor.

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