Inspiring Greatness

In an effort to perform to the best of our abilities, it can help to follow a role model, latch onto someone who leads by example, and perform to their standards, to emulate that person’s success, work toward the same greater goal, or perhaps even to impress him or her.

If I could do one thing in this world it would be to inspire at least one person.
— Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore

In all areas of life, we look to find a driving force to keep us moving forward. When it comes to our work, it’s not always easy to put in our best effort, but it’s hard to argue the satisfaction of a job well done when we actually do it, along with the financial rewards or recognition that might accompany this achievement. In an effort to perform to the best of our abilities, it can help to follow a role model, latch onto someone who leads by example, and perform to their standards, to emulate that person’s success, work toward the same greater goal, or perhaps even to impress him or her. On the job, this person may be a team leader or manager, a co-worker who always brings an A-game, or perhaps even a supplier who carries a positive, helpful attitude.

Outside of work we can also look for individuals to inspire us to perform our best in all we do. Personally, I derive a lot of motivation from the fact that I am an example for my kids. Everything I do affects them in some way, and it is my job as a parent to help them become better people. But especially as they’ve grown into young adults, I’m now more often able to also learn from their actions as well and become a better person by following their example. My daughter, Andi, has recently demonstrated her own leadership abilities by helping her teammates find inspiration.

As she begins her junior year on the Slippery Rock University soccer team this fall, Andi has begun to embrace her opportunity as a team leader. But while she seeks to inspire her teammates through her own effort and performance, she also has been open to sharing her own on-field inspirations.

Many of you have probably heard the story of Lauren Hill, the Mount St. Joseph University freshman who, last year, accomplished her dream of playing college basketball despite her struggles with an inoperable brain tumor. This story unfolded in our hometown, and Andi followed it closely from the beginning until Lauren passed away this past spring.

During Lauren’s battle, she was instrumental in raising almost $1.5 million to support pediatric cancer research. Part of that effort was backed by an auction of about 300 basketball jerseys, bearing Lauren’s No. 22, which were donated by colleges and universities around the country and autographed by Lauren. Andi’s mom, who works with Lauren’s father, purchased the No. 22 Slippery Rock jersey in the auction and gave it to Andi. Andi, in turn, has set up a program with her coach to recognize one player each week of the season with a Woman of the Week award for the player who sets the best example of “living in the moment and doing all she can to make the most of the life she is lucky enough to have.” That player will get to hang Lauren’s jersey in her locker that week.

Andi also proudly tells the story of a close high school friend of hers, Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore, who accomplished his dream of playing Division I college football by walking on as a non-scholarship player at the University of Cincinnati. Chamoda was killed last fall while riding his motorcycle to football practice when an SUV made an illegal turn in front of him. Andi says Chamoda was the kind of person who respected everyone and earned their respect in return. He always had a smile on his face, and he made the most of the time he had, working to be the best athlete, teammate, person and friend that he could possibly be.

To help remind her to reach back for every bit of effort she can garner, Andi wears a wristband during her games that has Lauren’s and Chamoda’s uniform numbers inscribed on it. She makes a point to remind her own teammates of the significance of each moment they have together doing what they love.

It’s a powerful message worth sharing. Be an inspiration on the job and otherwise, encourage someone to do something they don’t think they can do, and appreciate and make the most of every minute you get to spend with those with whom you interact.