The concept of “the Average Joe” is generally one of affection in our culture. “Joe” is the guy who works hard and keeps his nose clean. He is not particularly exceptional or memorable, and doesn’t cause trouble. Sounds like the model citizen, right? Not according to famed NFL Referee Ed Hochuili. Mayor Ronnie heard Hochuili speak to a group of fellow mayors, and the ref challenged them all to be far more than Average Joes, especially in their role as the shepherds of their cities.
Hochuili draws from years of experience having to make calls that he knows will anger thousands of people. He also has had to get used to having a coach get in his face one moment, and then praise him the next, while the other coach is doing exactly the opposite. All of it, the calls as well as the accolades and/or pushback, is done in a split second because the game moves quickly and the clock is ticking. Add to the pressure the fact that team owners level complaints, and it is easy to see why the Average Joe will only last about two seconds in Hochuili’s position. What keeps Hochuili going is knowing that he has done his very best to be the statesman of the game, the one who makes principled calls that he believes are right. He said that people, whether they are in leadership positions or not, will only be able to look back with either pride or regret, and all of it rests on whether or not they were willing to step up.
“We have to take any opportunity we can to build people up,” said Mayor Ronnie. He illustrated his point by showing me an animal video of a bear cub being chased by a mountain lion. It is touch and go, as well as agonizing to watch, especially when it looks like the lion is going to eat the cub for lunch. Then, the cub waxes “ferocious” and begins to roar at the lion, who backs off and retreats. What isn’t shown until the very last is that the reason the lion goes away is not because of the cub’s convincing ferocity. It’s because the mama bear is standing on her hand legs behind the cub. She is silent, but she is deadly, and the lion knows it. “That’s what we all need,” said Mayor Ronnie. One of the last challenges given to the group of mayors by Ed Hochuili was to have the guts to ask for “constructive criticism.” “That’s tough to do,” he said, and I agreed with him.
Mayor Ronnie was asked to attend the annual recital presented by Kelly’s Studio of Dance, and was amazed at how hard the kids had rehearsed. Marie Trent, who is an alum of Kelly’s and is now dancing in NYC, flew down for the performance both to enjoy as well as to assist. Anyone who knows Kelly’s story knows that she “stepped up” so that young dancers could “step out.” Speaking of flying, Mayor Ronnie had also just learned that flying cars are actually happening in Japan. “It’s their Kitty Hawk,” he said, marveling that this is reality, and not science fiction.
The mayor looked at me and said, “We are coming up on budget season, but that is going to need to be the topic of another article.” “Oh joy,” I thought to myself. “Summertime, and the livin’ is NOT easy…” However, I know from experience that he actually enjoys getting it done, and doing it well. Then it was time to pray, and time for Ronnie to roll, so we did, and he did.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner