February 13, 2013

To One Who Inspired Me

I was 18, a senior in high school and knew my skiing ability was limited, very limited. Yet, when he took me skiing and we road the gondola up to the top of the mountain I felt invigorated. Suddenly I had confidence...a little too much.

I stood at the top of the mountain staring at the warning sign telling me that this slope was for "advanced skiers only." He feel into this category; I did not. But I choose to see there was only one way down and proceed to ski.

The hills I typically skied did not contain turns and the trees and bushes were far, far away from the slope. Not this one. Shortly after I successfully navigated the first TURN, I continued turning and ended up in a bush. Skis sticking in directions my legs should not have gone. Somehow I managed to get out of the bush and stood back up. (Okay, it was not all that graceful. If you have ever tried to stand up on skis after falling you know what it is like.)

Of course, somewhere along the way a ski patrol guy asked if I needed help or wanted a ride down. "Nope, I am fine," I told him. "Only one way to get down." He reluctantly left me. After a very long time, I made it down the hill.

My friend was waiting for me at the bottom. I am sure he got in at least four more runs, before he finally saw me again. "How was it?" he asked. I stood up proud and beaming...."It was so much fun, but I am frozen. Think I am going to sit in the lodge for a bit."

Peeling off the layers and snowsuit I looked down at my right leg and saw my knee was about five times its normal size. It sort of helped explain how my leg was bent so oddly in the bush. This resulted in a full length walking cast and months and months of physical therapy.

During this time I decided that I wanted to be a physical therapist. So when I entered college I started out on that course- but ended up graduating with a business and marketing major.

After my skiing accident and before going to college my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. In our last visit he asked me about my future plans. I told him I wanted to go into physical therapy.

I remember clearly when Pop looked at me. His blue and brown plaid bathroom hung off his shrunken body, his white wisps of hair were askew, yet his baby blue eyes still beamed with the beauty of the life he had left. He rarely said a lot.

"Sarah, I am going to tell you something. Don't just settle for being a physical therapist, be in charge of the place. Work your way to being at the top. Not everyone has the gift to be able to do that, but you do. You have something special. Don't settle."

He passed away right before I graduated high school.

By 2010 I had worked my way up to being a vice president. Today, I am a partner in my own business (http://www.letustellit.com/).

I think of numerous people who saw things in me I didn't. Who encouraged me to go beyond where I thought my own limitations existed. Who took the time to advise me for or against things. Who gave me the extra confidence to be where I am today.

Most successful people can echo the same sentiments. Don't let it stop there though. Take the time to find those rare people in your world that need to hear similar words from you and tell them. And then thank your own mentors, friends, parents, grandparents, teachers, or coach for telling you. 

"Hey Pop, 18 years have gone by since you told this 18-year-old Sarah to not settle. I have ran into many mountains that others saw reserved for advanced people only, but I still refused to let that stop me. And yes, there have been bruises and bumps along the way, but I have recovered. Today I sit at at my desk proudly running my own business. In an unexpected moment you took the time to encourage me. Thank you!"

No comments: