I was recently honored by Delaware County Community College with the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award. It was a really nice night and my family was all there to share in the evening. Below are the speaking points that I delivered which I expanded upon from my notes.
Sometimes I forget all of the things that I do or have done until someone reminds me of them all. It does sound like a lot. The two questions that I am often asked are; “Do I ever sleep?” and “how do I find the time”. The short answers are – YES, I love my sleep – love to nap. I refer to them as “executive board meetings” and at least one dog usually attends these meetings with me. And the second answer is it’s easy to find the time for things you love to do. I am humbled to be recognized for doing things that simply make me happy.
Dave Roberts said it best. Dave was the local 6ABC weatherman who retired last year after spending several decades in the Philadelphia market. Dave was very involved with many organizations and on his final show he was asked by one of his colleagues what his secret is. He was asked how he found the time to do it all and do so with a perpetual smile and a kind, soft spoken word for everyone.
His answer was brilliantly simple.
His response was, if you do things you are passionate about, give of yourself and expect nothing in return, and don’t take yourself too seriously – you will always be happy and at peace. That seems like such a simple formula. So in keeping with Dave’s philosphy, while I did put on a suit tonight, I also opted for the Mickey Mouse tie.
When the Alumni office first started talking to me about this award, the word community kept echoing louder and louder in my head and it reminded me just how many communities I have been connected with through the years. And how many positive experiences and memories I have collected from those various communities.
Beginning with my first community growing up in Ardmore Pennsylvania where I had a lot of great role models and learned so many core values in the classroom and on the courts, fields, and playgrounds. Those interactions and those relationships poured a very solid foundation for me.
When I entered the Haverford high school community, I cultivated that further and had the opportunity to play under legendary coaches like Ted Keyser and Steve Juenger who taught me a whole lot more than soccer and basketball skills. I learned life skills from these men. I still hear some of their words come back to me today. Ted Keyser used to preach the words “intestinal fortitude” to us all the time. That also usually meant that we would be running more sprints but he defined it as strength & courage. I often find myself thinking of Ted Keyser and his “intestinal fortitude” when I need a little extra strength and courage. As I reflect back, I think Keyser taught me how to dig deep, and Juenger taught me how to be a gentleman about it.
As I moved into Delaware County Community College, I continued to find myself as a person, and a student, and an athlete. Community College provided the perfect Interim plan serving as a springboard to Cabrini College where I landed with some soccer scholarship $$ and even greater opportunity.
In that Cabrini College community I established lifelong relationships with students & teammates, administrators, teachers, and even my favorite campus priest who used to tease me about being a protestant male business major in a catholic education college for women. In an attempt to rectify this “problem”, Father Jack made me an Honorary Catholic. I still talk to father Jack McDowell and he was one of the first to congratulate me on receiving this award.
In 2006 I was inducted into the scariest but the most rewarding community yet – the cancer community.
I call it rewarding because it gave me more opportunities than it took away. I have been given a gift in the form of leukemia and the things I have been able to do with my gift are meaningful beyond words. And who do you suppose I thought of while receiving chemotherapy treatments? – Ted Keyser and his “intestinal fortitude”.
I wish I could tell you that my life followed a scripted and calculated path. The truth is, it didn’t. They real truth is nobody’s plan ever stays 100% true to course. And I’m glad mine didn’t because my path led me to some incredible people and opportunities.
Such as…Never in a million years would I ever have pictured myself not only a MEMBER of the cancer community, but a LEADER in that cancer community.
And while yes I had a goal many years ago of completing “one” marathon just to get it out of my system, I had no idea it would lead to over 20 marathons and 10 ironman triathlons with opportunities to also coach, and write about the sport on now many different levels.
I look out at this room and see leaders and future leaders. While I’m not an expert on any of this, I would like to share a few points to ponder that I have learned that have kept me grounded and happy …
1 – Enjoy the journey. Whatever your path or direction is, while it’s important to focus on your goal, don’t be so fixed on the finish line that you can’t enjoy the journey. The journey is where life happens. The journey is what builds relationships and experiences. We’re often too focused on were we’ve been and where we are going to embrace WHERE WE ARE.
2 – Check your footprint. What will your legacy be? How do you want to be remembered? You have total control over that BUT don’t live your life thinking you have an unlimited amount of tomorrows to do the right thing. Because you never know how many tomorrows are in the hand you are holding.
3 – Choose wisely. Your entire life you are faced with choices on everything under the sun. It’s those choices that will define you as a person. How will you react and respond to everything that will happen along the way? Your choices will define your footprint and your legacy.
4 – Be thankful. Express your appreciate to those people who help you along the way. I recently wrote a letter to the soccer coach I talked about, Ted Keyser. And I wrote a real letter, with a stamp. I didn’t email him or facebook message him. I wrote him. I wanted him to know that I was happy and healthy and enjoying life to the fullest and that I think of him and thanked him for some of his lessons that I still recall so many years later.
I believe that there are many people and organizations doing amazing things out there. But I also believe that the greatness is somewhat fragmented with pockets of greatness scattered all over. That’s where YOU come in. You can be one of those jumper cables or spark plugs that help connect it all. Make that your mission. Grab a hold of something great and make it even more great.
Be GREAT but Be HUMBLE. And as Dave Roberts said, don’t take yourselves too seriously.