School Days: Inspiring Greatness
By Cathleen Elise Rossiter
“Everybody we meet has an influence on us and an impact – good or bad. And I think that’s why we have to be careful with the way we handle people because what we’re doing is making an impact. Ernie Harwell
In Cambridge, MA in the early part of the last century, my mother’s cousin Ted was born. Ted was a spunky kid who grew up under less-than-stellar circumstances after his father died and his mother re-married. Apart from the comical tales of his escapades as a practical young boy trying to provide for his mother and younger siblings, the things I loved most about Cousin Ted was his complete understanding that he was always a role model; that he made the choice not to pass on to others the treatment he received; that he never shied away from helping other kids turn their lives around to reach beyond their circumstances and make a solid, happy life. By the time Cousin Ted died a little over a year ago, we figure that he influenced in a positive manner over 1,000 people simply by living his life to the best of his ability, being a role model and an honorable man in his everyday dealings.
I believe Cousin Ted learned this way of living from his uncle, my mother’s father. I hear more people tell me how Denny saved them, changed their lives. Whether it was by giving up his chance at overtime so that a father could feed his family; by having people in place invisibly to watch out for and protect Cousin Ted and his siblings; by being a safe haven for another nephew, the lone survivor of 250 kids in his unit in Viet Nam; or by a million other kindnesses, my grandfather (and grandmother, too, as they were a team) influenced an unknown number of people in their lives because of the example they set in the ordinary things they did. Like Cousin Ted, they accomplished the extraordinary while tackling the ordinary. Each one inspired greatness in others.
As a longtime proponent of the concept that you can change the world one person at a time, I cannot emphasize enough that the importance of being a role model cannot be overstated. Research shows repeatedly the positive impact that good mentorship has on an individual’s success in business and in life. In everything we do, or say, or write, we are a Role Model to someone, whether we have ever met this person or not. Ripples and Consequences. The question is, “how seriously will we take this responsibility and do our part to make the world a better place, one person at a time”?