My friend and fellow coach Julie Poland inspires me, and she inspired my topic today with her own blog, which I recommend you follow in addition to The Intersection of Purpose & Now. And I guess it is accurate to say that Julie was inspired by the Academy Awards ceremony last weekend. Like the Oscar winners, it comes natural to award winners to thank the people who made a difference in their lives. Thus, we end up with marathon awards programs on TV with a mixture of long droning lists of ‘thank you’s’ to everyone from mom, apple pie and my little dog Toto, too, as well as the truly heart-felt and profound stories of gratitude that touch even the hardest of hearts.
As Julie writes:
Who among us doesn’t have helping hands giving us a boost to the next step on our ladder of success? Or cheerleaders who help us celebrate when times are good? Perhaps a consoling shoulder for the days when it seems like the planets have aligned in the worst possible way? Nobody does it alone.
And, like Julie, I would be mortified if – given the chance to thank all those who make the life I live so special – I would tragically leave someone out by trying to mention them all. Truthfully, after finding myself on Julie’s list I couldn’t sleep last night for thinking of all the people I would thank. I KNOW I will leave someone out, but I think it’s important to take that risk by beginning to make my list of those “I would like to thank…”
I encourage you to take the same risk. I don’t expect you to read my list, and it’s already a long one at mid-life; that’s really between me and them. I do challenge you to record your list, write it down and take the risk of – somehow – sharing it publicly. Here goes: “I would like to thank…”
- My mother, Catherine “Katy” Sturgell – without her I may have lived my life without ever looking Christ in the eyes, without knowing the mercy, love and grace of God, without knowing the physical presence of the Holy Spirit, without knowing the best of what we have to offer as human beings. She taught me how to pray and gave me the best example of how to be. I know I am not alone in recognizing her as a saint – it’s more than the adoration from a son. My mom exemplifies what this blog is all about (and much more):
But it may be that the way of life that she has chosen for herself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of her character may have an ever-growing influence over her fellow men so that, long after her death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature.
- Judi – Without the love, encouragement, support and commitment of my wife, I am only less of a man.
- Tyler, Dylan, Ryan – Without the hugs, kisses, love and future of my children, I have only less of a purpose.
- Mrs. Bradford, my first grade teacher – perhaps if I had not been in love with my first grade teacher I would not have have fallen in love with learning (and several other teachers in the years that followed)!
- Mrs. Johnson, my second grade teacher – perhaps if she had not caught me faking my book reports on Dr. Seuss, I would not have developed the respect I have for the opportunity learn.
- Mrs. Keifer, my third grade teacher – if she had not been so unfair, perhaps I would not have sought to always be fair.
- Mrs. Dawson – she was my first music teacher, but without her appreciation for my early ability to communicate well, I would not have ever grown into my own skin.
- My brother and sisters (Becky, Terry, Betty and Cindy) – without their unconditional and unending love (and antagonism), I would be so much more alone in this world, and so much less intimate with this world.
- Wayne Scritchlow, my 4-H advisor – without his recognition of a young teenager adrift in a world of opportunity, I would never have known that life is about choice. Thank you, Wayne, for giving me a choice to dive into the deep end in order to learn how to swim, for making me “Willie B. 4-Her” and making the most of the chance to become a member of the Report to the State team, which changed everything and probably saved my life from mediocrity.
- Dave McMurtry – Dave, if you hadn’t introduced yourself and coached me that day on the way to our interviews for the Report to the State team, I would never have made it; I would never have achieved most of the things I have since those early days in 4-H. Out of countless 4-H friends, you will always be the most important one.
- Warren Sperry, my high school band director – without his highest expectations of me I would never have known about my unlimited potential, that the more of my potential I discover and use, the more potential I create. Thank you Warren, I really do “have the world by the heels.”
- Del Dahl – if you hadn’t traded me for 70 cases of copy paper, I would be probably be an unhappy mortician, pursuing a worthy career with unworthy passion.
- Sid Hutchcraft, former Illinois State Fair superintendent – without you inviting me back to the State Fair Press Office as an “experienced writer”, I might never have known true success and some of the best friends and memories one could ever had.
- Susan Idleman Helm – my dearest Susan, you mentored me, befriended me, coached me, inspired me and loved me only as a true friend can; all that, and you and Jim saved me from despair (and the Dragon Lady) when I really needed saving, too. You will always be a piece of my soul. (Thank goodness you didn’t puke on me on that ferris wheel!)
- My State Fair Press Office friends – you pulled me out of my paranoid little shell and taught me how to really live. Oh, the fun we had and got away with…
- The Illinois State 4-H Office staff over the years – the people who keep coming back to me to help, to lead, to be led and to learn. So much of what I have done, learned, and received, so many of the places I’ve been and the great people I met, began with the opportunities you chose to offer to me. I forever remain humbly honored and deeply grateful.
- The SIU Wesley Foundation – a group of friends who influenced me both on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings in a way that developed my character, enriched my spirit and sweetened my soul.
- Dr. Marie Kilker, my SIU academic advisor – without your wisdom and guidance, Lord knows what I would have done for an education. You opened up a world of possibility for me that did not exist before, one that few if any others would even consider.
- Cheryl Pruitt (Miss America 1978) and a couple of Miss USAs – without your kisses, I would have one less story to tell over and over and over again.
- Jay Lowe – for supporting my efforts to continually grow in my career, and for teaching how to act locally to change the world.
- Pam Schnake – without the opportunity to work with you I probably wouldn’t be in business today.
- Jacques Nuzzo – without you I would not be the facilitator I am today.
- John Schirle, my best friend and so much more – without you I would, WOW, there is too long a list to share here! Thank you for being my business right hand, my devotional partner, my prayer warrior and your prayers for my boys, for taking me into a life a adventure (and crawling through darkness, mud, wet clay and frigid chest-high water for fun), and much, much, much more. Thank you, friend.
- David Herdlinger, my friend, coach and coach mentor – without you I would not be the coach I am or know the person I aspire to become.
- Cindy Key & Cheryl Clausen – without my first two coaching buddies I would be so far behind the competition and a puddle of unaddressed issues!
- Jerry Fons & Julie Poland – two more coaching buddies that hold me to the highest standards of coaching and being coached.
- Dennis Pescitelli – you inspire me, follow me and lead me with a keen spirit and noble values.
- RAC Network – to difficult to categorize: a circle of friends, a community of colleagues, a pack of drinking buddies? If ever I need to know the right answer or the right question, you are there for me. Without the respect, support and accountability of my colleagues and clients over the years, I would only be less useful.
- There have been hundreds of people with disabilities, high school and college students, correctional inmates, mid-career professionals, business owners, managers, employees, community leaders and job-seekers who, through their own dreams and experiences, made me a better coach. They led me to my VOCATION and helped me recognize my passion for nurturing the self-advocacy, accountability and leadership potential of others.
- Finally, I thank and encourage anyone who chooses to help others – it’s the only really useful thing we can do during our time on earth.
But it’s not really the end of my list. Who have I forgotten? Who will influence me today? Tomorrow? These will be the people who will help me make the second half of my life even more meaningful and significant than the first half. “I would like to thank…” I’ve only begun my list.
Join me at The Intersection of Purpose & Now. Who will you thank?