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Just Tell Me I Can’t – Book Review

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Good learners risk doing things badly in order to learn how to do things well.” –  – Harvey Dorfman
Jaime Moyer always seemed like someone to watch.  As a fan of Major League Baseball, I was intrigued by Moyer’s career path.  I had seem him arrive with the Cubs, then disappear, then resurrect and transform himself in Seattle as a top flight pitcher for a decade.  I enjoyed watching Moyer, with guile and smarts, dissect major league hitters by pitching ‘backwards’, changing speeds and hitting spots.  It is a select audience that enjoys watching an old lefty changeup artist carve up steroid fueled gorillas, and that audience will immensely enjoy Just Tell Me I Can’t.My interest in Moyer was confirmed in the book Moneyball – the smartest sports book of this era.  Moyer is portrayed as an old ghoul in that book – a vampire who will scramble your brain by out thinking you and feasting on your desire to crush his slow offerings.  It turns out there was a method to the psychological madness, and his name was Harvey Dorfman.

The best part of the book was Moyer’s introduction to Dorfman.  Moyer had been reduced to being offered a job as a pitching coach.  He was on his way out of the majors – seen as a failure and at the end of the line.  Dorfman was recommended to him and with Dorfman’s mental re-working of Moyer’s psyche and confidence, turned Moyer around.  Dorfman taught Moyer how to train the mind and ones approach as one would train a muscle.  Dorfman seems to have been a master at getting people to take responsibility for their actions and failures, and use those things as strengths.  The fact that a man who could not top 84mph, by changing his mental approach, was able to not only change his life and career around, but thrive in the major leagues is what makes this sports book different.

Just Tell Me I Can’t is really a book about failure and risk.  How to deal with failure, learn from it, control the after affects and become motivated rather than defeated by it.  The lessons learned from failure and taking risks are liberally sprinkled throughout all of the success stories I’ve know, and Moyer’s is no different.

The old adage is “hitting is timing, and good pitching destroys timing.”.  Moyer was able to pitch until he was 49 years old in the majors, with stuff that frightened no one, because he was a master technician and his mental approach was fostered by an old asthmatic man from the Bronx who never played baseball.  I found this book motivational and useful – baseball is just the medium used, it is the message within the book that makes it worth it.

To aspire to great achievement is to risk failure
Think and talk the solution – not the problem
– – Harvey Dorfman

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