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October 26th, 2011
09:22 PM ET

Letters to the President #1010: 'Taking on hard work'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every day, even when I don’t feel like it. I hope he reads my letters with the same sense of duty. But probably not.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the great characters of my youth, one of the people who most fascinated me, was the great heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. I loved his sense of style, his elegance in the ring, and the fluid way that he transitioned from outrageous showboating into pure, earth shaking boxing in a flash.

His smile was infectious, and as much as others hated his braggadocio, I saw it as just part of an extraordinarily captivating act. Maybe if I were older I would have been more troubled by all the controversy over his anti-war stance, or perhaps by many of the other things he said over the years, but I was young and he was simply a hero.

I passed him once in the New Orleans airport, already severely weakened by his illness, but it was still like seeing a mythical being.

Recently I was reading through some of his quotes, and I found one that particularly struck me. He said something along the lines of, I hated every minute of training, but I liked winning, and that was the cost.

Whether we’re talking about you trying to get re-elected, or me trying to make some progress at the office, or whatever, I find so much wisdom in that sentiment. No one really likes doing all the hard, unnoticed work that leads to success. It is hard to feel good in the long, tedious hours of tending to details and doing what it right even though no one seems to be noticing.

But over my years I have tried very hard to embrace my work, whatever form it may take; whether on the job, or exercising, or cleaning the patio, or brushing the dog. I try to tell myself: This is the cost of a good life, and your life has been very good. Don’t complain. Don’t shirk. Do your duty, and more good will come.

Just something that is on my mind this Wednesday. Give a call if you have a moment. I’m, of course, always happy to talk.

Regards,
Tom

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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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