For anyone who is considered or admired for being inspiration, many questions often follow. Usually they involve questions focused on advice or insight. However, I believe there is one question that trumps all- who inspires you? If a person is admired for being inspirational, and they learned how to do so from someone else, then I need to know who that person is as well. While I can certainly point to many famous and infamous leaders and educators who serve as sources of inspiration and hope, I am thankful that I have been blessed with many people in my life that I can refer to. My mother is without a doubt on the top of that list for numerous reasons. However, in light of yesterday’s celebration of dads, I wanted to highlight the two men in my life that have, and continue, to inspire me to achieve amazing things.
Growing up, my father was not a man of many words. Needless to say, he commanded respect for many reasons, whether it be his sheer size as an avid weightlifter or the bass in his voice when he spoke. As a child, I never really understood or appreciated what my father did on a regular basis. We knew he was always at work while my mom was always home with us. We always knew that when we really wanted or needed something he would find a way to make it happen. Birthdays were always celebrated at the restaurant of our choice. Efforts were always made to take us to the drive-in movie or to Sesame Place or Rye Playland. As a child, and like most other children, I always wanted more while never appreciating the situation. As I got older, and started placing myself in situations where I needed to be a role model and provider and a professional, I started to grow a much greater respect for everything my father did. He worked two and sometimes three jobs to ensure that we had everything we needed so out focus would be on school. His lack of sleep or body aches never stopped him from doing what he felt he needed to do to take care of his family. He instilled in me a relentless and lethal work ethic as a professional which is how and why I wear so many hats. While there were many missed opportunities to go to a ball game or throw the football around, I am incredibly thankful for the passion, commitment and dedication he instilled in me that is the fuel I use to drive my success today.
There is not a single speaking engagement that I participate in today where I do not mention my older brother. Whether it be to mention his highly respected profession as a doctor, or to talk about the sacrifices he made as a student to achieve levels of success that most people wouldn’t even believe. I speak with such pride in knowing that he is not only my older brother but someone I admire and respect in high regard. As a child, however, I was not always the biggest fan of his. This was primarily due to jealousy. He was always the star student while I dreaded going to school. He was always ready and willing to make the sacrifices for his education while I was more interested in being social. The funniest part is I wanted all the recognition he was getting but never wanted to put in the work. My brother grew in my eyes from someone I was once jealous of to someone I wanted to keep up with and follow his positive examples, albeit in my own way. Today my brother is a success by any definition. As with my father, my respect and admiration grew for him as I went through my own journey and learned the valuable lessons my brother was showing through his actions at a younger age. The oddest and funniest example of this is in knowing that I am closer with my brother now, despite him living in Georgia, than I was when he lived in New York many years ago. Regardless of distance, he remains my source of inspiration to this day.
Many of the young people I meet often assume that I was born with the work ethic I have, or that success was something that was always a part of my life, or even that I never really experienced hardship. This could not be farther from the truth. By any account of my life and the obstacles I faced and the decisions I made, I should not be alive nor in the position I am in today. However, I am where I am not only by the grace of God but also because closes to me where two men who showed me everything I needed to know in order to achieve success. As with all things in my life, I am going to do things my way, even if it is the harder way. However, those lessons instilled and showcased to me by my father and my brother are the foundation in which everything I do and everything I am is built on.
Thank you to my father, Marco, and my brother, Steve, for being my inspiration.