“Live courageously. Live dangerously. Become who you are!” – Friedrich Nietzsche
There once was a boy we’ll call Gus, born in Montreal to Greek immigrant parents who had started a business and worked hard to support their children. The parents wanted Gus to get his education and then join the growing family enterprise.
But Gus didn’t love it and instead he had a passion for something else, something we’ll call oneiros. His parents frowned upon oneiros viewing it as a far-fetched, unrealistic and futureless option for their son.
However, Gus was obsessed and could not be deterred. He studied, read and watched everything he could about oneiros. It forever whispered in his ear.
It was extremely hard to get a job in oneiros. There were only two such companies in all of Canada. This didn’t stop Gus from trying. After he completed university, he volunteered to work for free in 2000 for the Montreal oneiros company, in their mail room, sorting letters.
A few years later, he was offered a low paying position with the oneiros company in Toronto. Over the next few years, through that winning combination of hard work, talent and good fortune, Gus steadily rose in the company. By 2006 he was second in command and by 2010 he was fully in charge of running the Toronto operation, only below the Owner and the President.
Combining extensive research and analysis with daring and unorthodox strategies, Gus lifted the Toronto oneiros company to dizzying, almost unprecedented heights, culminating in a magical year in 2015, much to the delight of all their customers.
The Toronto company then hired a new President who was successful and experienced in oneiros, but who didn’t have the same vision or style as Gus. He wanted to restructure the organization. They didn’t see eye to eye.
However, the Owner and President recognized Gus’s value and offered him an extremely lucrative five year contract to stay on, for more money than he’d ever earned before, ensuring financial security for the rest of his life. And, if he didn’t like the job after one year, he was free to leave.
By this time Gus was married and had young children of his own. He had earned a good living the last few years but was far from “set for life”. Also, he had no other job offers.
If you are a Canadian sports fan, you may have guessed by now that oneiros (Greek for “dream”) is baseball, the Toronto organization is the Blue Jays and Gus is Alex Anthopoulos, the young General Manager who made remarkable trades and decisions in 2015 to lead the Blue Jays to an incredible season and playoffs for the first time since 1993.
And this is the dilemma Anthopolous faced at the end of that season: keep his high paying job and be extremely well paid, even though his autonomy would be reduced and the President’s management vision did not align with his; or quit, become unemployed with no guarantee of a future position with any other team.
I assume that his family, friends, lawyer and accountant all encouraged him to accept the rich offer from the Blue Jays. What fool wouldn’t have?
Instead, Alex Anthopoulos said no and walked away. It didn’t align with his core beliefs and who he was. What a courageous, dangerous choice he made.
He subsequently accepted a lesser assistant’s role with another team for the 2016 season. The following year a scandal took down the GM of the Atlanta Braves and Anthopoulos was hired to replace him. Five years later in the fall of 2021, Atlanta won the World Series.
Anthopoulos had reached the very top of his profession and was the first Canadian GM to ever do so. He did it his way.
“Nothing must interfere with the development of the hero within you.” Could that have been Nietzsche’s voice whispering in young Alex’s ear all those years ago?