My last post got me thinking about the people I’ve met that inspire me to be better than I might otherwise be. We all have our own list I suppose but I thought I’d share some of the individuals on my list. I’ll intentionally limit myself to only those people who I’ve actually met and had substantive contact with.
My wife, Ann is absolutely the most influential person on my life. I’m consistently amazed at her insight on all matters complicated and delicate. Her advice is always speedy but never hasty and rarely off the mark. Truly the most remarkable person I know, she is my greatest resource.
Before Ann came along, I was most influenced by my parents and a few special teachers. My Dad was a WWII veteran who grew up through the Depression. I was always impressed by his work ethic and commitment and ability to make sacrifices without ever making them apparent. I think I’m only now beginning to fully appreciate that and understand how to incorporate some of it into my own behavior. My Mom was the one who nurtured and encouraged me in a way my Dad never would. She was the first person who made me understand the importance of believing in myself and that giving my best effort was all that was important in the scheme of things.
The most influential teacher on my life was my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Kaplan. She encouraged my writing, especially creatively, and introduced me to public speaking. To this day, she remains a valuable resource.
I also had the great fortune, which often times felt like a great misfortune, of growing up alongside two individuals that went on to even greater accomplishments. Kevin Short, who is a northeast professor responsible for pioneering the compression technology that gives your cell phone those fancy rings among other things, and Walt Weiss, of Oakland A’s fame. Both provided enduring examples of excellence that I could directly relate to.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of being invited to an intimate investment seminar in Vail, Colorado. Several individuals had a profound impact on my thinking but two stand out prominently. The first is Tom Kirk, Jr. whom I’ve already mentioned previously and the second is General Hal Moore. These two men are renowned for their ordeals but it was their distilled advice which seemed so utterly simple that was of most impact. In the context of what they had endured, their demeanor and insight on life was remarkable and compelling, yet surprisingly straightforward and simple.
These people I’ve mentioned are but a few of the direct influences on my life and how I choose to approach things. It’s amazing to me the shared qualities between those famous and those ordinary. We all know individuals with these qualities; the qualities hard to define sometimes but easier to recognize. We can all be inspired to be better than we would be otherwise if only we stay alert to the wisdom that touches our lives every day.