Katy Bourne


Six Things We Can Learn From Richard Sherman

POSTED ON October 22, 2013 | POSTED IN: My Blog | 19 Comments

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Today I’m putting my hands in the air for the Seattle Seahawk’s fun-loving, shit-disturbing All-Pro cornerback and my new hero – Richard Sherman. I’ve been a Seahawks fan for a few years now but no player has inspired or delighted me quite like  the mighty Mr. Sherman. He’s spirited. He’s sharp. He’s intrepid. He’s the quintessential athlete on top of his game. He’s an outspoken provocateur with a Twitter account. There is something about this cat that triggers my inner rascal and fills me with an odd optimism. I believe there’s a lot to be gleaned from his playbook. Here are six things we can all learn from Richard Sherman:

1. BE AUTHENTIC   

Don’t be afraid to show up in the world. Be who you are. Be bold and unabashed. Don’t concern yourself too much with other people’s approval. In her eloquent TEDx Boulder talk “Rethinking Unpopular,” fiery business blogger Erika Napoletano speaks to this very idea; the people who truly dig you for who you are will hang in there with you no matter what. Anyone else isn’t worth wringing your hands over. In fact, if you water yourself down in an effort to somehow be more acceptable to other people, you risk mediocrity.  For the love of God, why would you want to do that? Eliciting strong reactions, good or bad, is far better than indifference. Richard Sherman has his fans and his detractors, but nobody is indifferent to him. It’s because he has the balls to be who is is without apology.

2. BE PLAYFUL

It’s pretty clear that Richard Sherman has a whole lot of fun out there, on the field and off. Whether you’re an NFL cornerback or a clerk at the 7-11, there’s something to be said for bringing a playful spirit into everything you do. A light touch is its own kind of magic. It’s infectious and infuses the world with a little more joy. And there is nothing more appealing than someone who does not take him/herself too seriously. As part of the “Bleacher Report,” Richard took to Bourbon Street to interview unsuspecting football aficionados about who is the best lockdown cornerback in the NFL– Darrelle Revis or Richard Sherman. His interactions with the fans were highly entertaining and epitomized good-humor and grace. Perhaps if we all took such a playful approach to our days, life would be much easier. It would certainly be a whole lot more fun.

3. BE SMART

Do your homework. Know your shit. While this is applicable in all areas, it is especially so in our professional lives.  Chatter and swagger aside, Richard Sherman is a brainiac with a ferocious work ethic. On his blog, Richard posts a pre-game assessment on whatever team the Seahawks will be playing that week. If these posts are any indicator, he thoroughly studies his opponents, making microscopic observations and taking note of all their strengths and weakness. In one interview, he said he watches about 30 hours of film a week. That’s crazy dedication. But that’s what it takes to get the job done. Even though we may not be Stanford grads with a degree in communications, we can certainly rock our brains, put in the time and take care of business.

4. DON’T LET THE HATERS GET YOU DOWN

One thing I find especially fascinating about Richard Sherman is his ability to cheerfully deflect criticism and to fearlessly get up in the face of his naysayers. His Twitter dustups are infamous. His smackdown with Skip Bayless on ESPN’s “First Take” was epic. And, of course, his answer to taunting from Tom Brady launched the “U Mad Bro?” heard round the world. The man’s got a spine and a sense of humor. He remains undaunted, no matter what they throw at him. Optiumus Prime is Teflonic. We all deal with critics and assholes from time to time. Wall-to-wall thick skin is a sound investment for any house.

5. BE GENEROUS

Richard Sherman has made it his mission to help kids who don’t have the adequate tools or means to be successful. Growing up in Compton, CA, one of the grittiest hot spots for gang activity in the United States, Richard saw firsthand the inherent difficulties that arise when there is inequality in opportunity and a shortage of resources. Blanket Coverage-The Richard Sherman Foundation is dedicated to providing school supplies, equipment and support for school-aged children who might otherwise go without. His generosity is having an impact. As one student said, “It makes me wanna just grab life.” While we may not be be professional athletes with charitable foundations, each of us has the capacity to be generous in our own way. It can be big or small. It can be anything from volunteering at a fundraiser for cancer research to helping the elderly neighbor take out the recycling. In my case, it could be as simple as hauling myself out to pick up the teen animal, as opposed to making him take the bus. We have daily opportunities to make something better for someone else. We should seize them.

6. NEVER GIVE UP ON YOURSELF

This seems to be the fundamental sensibility of the Seahawks team in general and it’s been a consistent theme in post-game commentaries from Richard, especially in come from behind victories. In the press conference following the Hawks 23-20 win over Houston, he said, “Belief in ourselves is always evident. There’s never a sense of doubt.”  To keep believing in ourselves when we’re on our backs and the odds are against us is perhaps the most powerful and important choice we can make in life. If other people give up on us, that’s unfortunate. But if we give up on ourselves, we are willingly snuffing out our own flame and slamming the door shut on any potential for greatness. It’s not over until we say it is. I can’t think of anything more empowering than that.

So there you have it. As I move through my days and come up against my own personal challenges, I often think about Richard Sherman and how he might be in these situations. If I know I have a rough day ahead of me, I carry his picture in my pocket for  a little extra soul muscle.  Interestingly, it’s been very helpful. It may seem unlikely and perhaps a little goofy that a middle-aged mother/singer/writer like me would have a 25-year old professional football player as a role model. But why the hell not? I’m a firm believer in taking inspiration from wherever we can get it. Our trip here is short. Sometimes it’s hard. Any lifelines along the way should be welcome with high fives, enthusiasm and gratitude. Richard Sherman is “better at life.”  Maybe we can be too.

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Photo- Elaine Thompson/AP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

19 responses to “Six Things We Can Learn From Richard Sherman”

  1. Christopher Stinson says:

    I think this article is absolutely amazing and not to mention a spot-on description of one of the great, young athletes in the NFL. I started following Mr. Sherman after his Seahawks beat my Cowboys around this same time last year and have been keeping up with him since. A lot of people on the outside looking in might just see it as mindless trash talking but if you’ve kept up with him and listen to some of his interviews like the author has then you’ll see that this guy is very intelligent and displays excellent character. He has the perfect balance of swagger and sportsmanship to where he can trash talk an opposing receiver the whole game, back it up with his play, and still trade respects with the guy afterwards. Very impressed by this article and what I’ve seen from Mr. Sherman so far in his career and hopefully there are more of these to come for such an inspirational figure.

    • admin says:

      Hey Christopher,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Of course, I agree with you on all points. Richard Sherman is the bomb!

      I think it can be easy for people to look at a larger than life person like Richard, stamp a label on them (“trash talker” or whatever) and leave it at that. I’m sure I’ve done it myself with other public figures. But human beings are complex and are bigger than any limited definition we have of them. Obviously, I don’t know Mr. Sherman personally, but it’s clear he’s got a lot on the ball (forgive the pun).

      From what I can tell by the reactions to this blog post (and the fun madness on Twitter), lots of people feel like you and I do.

      Have a great day!

  2. Chuck Rumpf says:

    Wow! This article is the equivalent of 100 yard Pick Six.

    I have been following and admiring Richard Sherman for the past 3 years. Your article states exactly how I have viewed him. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Chuck,

      “..the equivalent of 100 yard Pick Six.” You’ve made my day!

      I’m so pleased that you took the time to read and comment. It’s really satisfying to see that so many people share my mad love for Richard Sherman!

      Peace & Football,

      Katy

  3. Krez A says:

    I can relate to looking up to a young role model. I’m in my 30s and my role model happens to be, also a seahawk, 24 year old
    Russell Wilson. Both Russell and Richard are two class acts to look up to.

    • admin says:

      Hi Krez,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog!

      Agreed! Russell Wilson is a wonderful athlete and a great spirit. Very different personalities- Wilson & Sherman. But that’s part of what makes this team so lovable- all the unique individuals.

      Go Seahawks!

      Katy

  4. Elizabeth Graham says:

    Dear Katy,

    I happen to love Sherman the man himself too! What thoughtful, humor infused comments you have for him and so glad he brings laughter, joy and wisdom to your life. We can all learn from his philosophy and energy and keep on telling it like it is with your wonderful commentaries!

    All the Best!

    Libby

    • admin says:

      Libby!

      I didn’t know that you were a fan! You just kicked “awesome” up a few notches.

      R.S. most definitely brings a ton of joy and makes everything so much more interesting for this fan. It’s cool to witness such phenomenal athleticism. It’s fun to watch his interviews and to read his blog. It’s a treat to see such a delightful person rock the world like he does.

      And football itself brings a lot of joy too. I really love the Sunday ritual of hunkering down with my neighbors and watching the game together. (Although I REALLY need to keep my paws out of the chips and Chex mix.) Football builds community. I’m in.

      Here’s to Richard Sherman, Libby, and here’s to YOU too!

      Katy

      • Elizabeth Graham says:

        Hey Katy, You’ll have nine fabulous opportunities to see Mr. Sherman in action and more when they get to the superbowl! Can’t wait for Monday’s game which I’ll be watching at my favorite getaway on Whidbey Island! Have a great weekend and a happy Halloween!

        Cheers!

        Libby

        • admin says:

          Hey Libby-

          I look forward to each and every game. My neighbors and I have a regular Seahawks ritual. We hunker down and raise hell on behalf of our boys. Mad fun.

          Enjoy the game Monday night.

          Go Seahawks!

          Katy

  5. Rona Zevin says:

    Way to go Katy. Beautiful writing. (And beautiful picture too).

    • admin says:

      Thanks for popping by the bloggie, Rona, and for the kind words. It was easy to write. Outstanding subject.

      Cheers,

      Katy

  6. Carmen Bendixen says:

    Great post Katy! I have to say, as a Seahawks fan since the “good” old days of Dave Craig and Steve Largent, I think we are entering a Golden Age of Seahawks. And I appreciate you highlighting one of the reasons for that, the great Richard Sherman. High 5 to you, and have a great day!

    • admin says:

      Hey Carmen!

      Thanks for checking out the post! And I couldn’t agree with you more. This is a super exciting time in Seahawk football. This is a bold crew. Loads of talent, great coaching and lots of strong personalities. This Seahawks team has soul & heart. It’s going to be a fun ride, huh?

      Go Hawks!

      Katy

  7. Drewonimo says:

    Take it from a sports illiterate individual like me, great piece, Katy. I love how your voice shines through your writing loud and clear — spirited and big-hearted — and a lot like your hero, Richard Sherman.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for dropping by the bloggie, Drew, and for the kind comments!

      I’m really glad you enjoyed this post. I think it’s cool that even though you say that you’re “sports illiterate,” that something about Mr. Sherman resonated with you. And I think that’s exactly the thing-he’s more than a football player. He’s an extraordinary person with an interesting way of being in the world.

      If you ever want to watch a game together, I’d be happy to hip you to some of to the finer points of football.

      Here’s to spirit & big hearts!

      Katy

  8. Jamie Corpus says:

    Love..LOVE this! These should be the first 6 rules taught to children. “Life rules” . Love “know your shiit”!! I am also a fan of this man because he tells it like it is..is Proud of who he is what he represents from many levels. Is both humble and generous and puts his family first. Thank you for your words..your candor. Definitely a new fan of your blog,

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for visiting the blog & for your comments! Yep, R.S. is the real deal. So lucky he’s a Seahawk!

      Peace & Football,

      Katy

  9. […] date, I’ve had one post go viral (Thank you, Richard Sherman), a few that have generated a fair amount of engagement and […]

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Katy Bourne is a Jazz Singer and Writer.