Over the last couple of weeks Roll Models has hit some pretty big milestones. It was endorsed by CareStaf, had its blog syndicated by the Mr. Canary Company, and numerous talks have been scheduled over the coming months. As it has grown and become more established, I have found myself thinking about the journey that brought me here. If you had told me at Christmas that I would be a professional speaker by April, I probably would have laughed at you. That being said, I now cannot imagine doing anything else. As I have been thinking about the incredible adventure that Roll Models has taken me on, I have found myself remembering, and being grateful for, all of the people that have guided me along the way. From my mom sending me a lifetimes worth of photos, my sister making me Roll Models uniforms, my brother giving me advice on marketing and advertising, and countless other people who have kept me on the right path, I know that without the help of these people that Roll Models would not have grown into the success it is today. This has reminded me of the importance of taking the time to appreciate the people in your life that aid you in your success, because in a way, it is their success too.
I will never forget the day that I showed my Notre Dame diploma to my grandfather (my dad’s dad) and step-grandmother shortly after graduating. Now, you have to understand something about my grandfather, he is not a Notre Dame fan. He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and was a blue-collar, railroad worker his entire life, so he saw the rich, privileged Notre Dame types as arrogant jerks (to be fair, some of them are). This did not mean that he was not extremely proud of me for going there and graduating, and he didn’t see me that way, but I was definitely the exception. So when I pulled out the leather binder containing my sheepskin diploma with gold leaf ink coloring the dome, I figured I’d get some kind hearted teasing about the decadence of my alma mater followed by a hug. This is not what happened at all though. I handed him the binder as we sat with my family around his kitchen table, and then I looked over at my brother for a moment. When I looked back expecting some good-natured ribbing, I saw both of my grandparents with tears streaming down their faces. This wasn’t just a couple of tears of joy, they were nearly sobbing as they admired my name on that parchment. After composing themselves, they both gave me a big hug and told me how proud they were of everything that I had achieved.
That moment when I looked over and saw how emotional they were as they viewed the fruits of my 4 years of hard work is one of those snapshots of life that is permanently seared into my memory. My grandfather is not an emotional man to say the least, and I definitely had never seen him cry before or since that day. His great show of emotion made me realize that, in addition to this being a huge accomplishment for me, it was also a huge accomplishment for him and all of the other people who are close to me. Everyone who helped me along the way as I worked to achieve this goal had a share in my success. This doesn’t at all take away from how much I had to overcome, how many times I got back up when life knocked me down, or the determination I showed in earning my degree. In fact, it adds to the greatness of this accomplishment, because I get to share it with my loved ones. If not for their guidance during my journey through life, this dream would not have become the reality it did. His emotional reaction made a lot more sense when I considered all of the times he worried about me in the hospital, called to ask how my classes were, and sent me a few bucks so I could have fun on the weekend. He had an investment in me, which made my accomplishment that much more special to him. And once I realized this point, it made it a lot more special to me too.
It is important not to get so wrapped up in your achievements in life that you forget about all of the people that were a part of your journey. None of us would be where we are today without the guidance of others along the way. Remember your guides that helped show you the path to success, and keep in mind that your success is also theirs. What would your life be like without the wisdom and assistance of your guides over the years? If you have not already, take the time to think about all of the people that helped you achieve your goals in life. Then go a step further and thank them for all of their guidance so they can share in your success. This will bring happiness to their life, strengthen your relationship, and magnify your feeling of success and accomplishment as you share it with them.