Where We Come From- Stories of Our Lives


April 29, 2010

I read a post that made me think.  It is ‘Every Person Tells A Story‘ by Mike VanDervort over at The Human Race Horses blog.  He’s a writer I greatly admire.  You’ll have to read it for the entire background, but basically he tells part of his own story.  It’s the story of his grandfather and how he took a job shoveling coal while in the 6th grade.  It’s a really inspiring post.  I hope today you’ll indulge me in sharing a story of someone who is my hero and inspiration.

Trish & Dad in Clearwater, FL

I’ve often had people ask me what makes me work the way I do, why I get so focused or passionate about things in the workplace, or why I keep taking on more projects inside and outside work when I’m already busy.  I do these things because it’s the way I was raised.  My father, Don Steed, taught me everything I needed to know to be “successful” in my career.  And, by successful, I mean satisfied with my progress, my work product, and my work ethic.  I do not mean it’s about making more and more money, although that IS a nice outcome.

My dad had a hard life.  He was born in a tiny town, Bradford, Arkansas in 1940.  He had two loving parents and a little brother.  My grandfather was a bookkeeper and the family lived several places before landing in Detroit, Michigan.  Back then, tuberculosis was a very common disease in our population and my grandfather contracted it.  He spent seven years in and out of a sanitarium where patients were quarantined.  Mostly, he was there.

My dad was only seven years old when that happened, so he lost most of his formative years with his father becasue he could not even touch him.  He could only look through a window to see his dad.  So, as a child, my dad began working.  He was a paper boy, he helped the milkman deliver milk to the doors of each house, and he picked up other odd jobs.  His dad eventually passed away when he was fifteen.  This had a huge impact on his life.  He eventually dropped out of high school and went back to Arkansas to live with his grandparents.

Dad with Trish

By age seventeen he had already decided to join the Army.  He served our country for six years and traveled the world.  After he was released with an Honorable Discharge, he eventually moved to St. Louis, MO and started working.  He married, and several years later, they had me.  Five years later, my sister joined the family.  Although he was a family man, working full-time, once he got married, he quickly achieved his GED and began taking courses at the junior college.  Eventually, he transferred to Washington University.  I’ll brag a little because that is a really challenging school to be accepted by.  He worked hard his whole life and eventually retired from Big River Zinc (formerly AMAX Zinc) where he had been a manager over several large departments.  He was there over thirty years.

During my life, my dad was always involved in the PTA at school and served as President.  He eventually ran for our district’s school board and served on that from 1980- 1989.  One of the proudest moments in my life was when my dad, the President of the school board, handed me my high school diploma.  It was amazing!  Sure, with all he had going on, there were many nights he wasn’t home with his kids.  He had meetings and school events to attend.  But what he taught me is that it is important to continue to challenge yourself once you’re an adult.

He also taught me:

  • Love your kids fiercely
  • Don’t be complacent- fight for what you believe is right
  • Always give 110%, whether that is when you’re with your kids, at work, or in the way you spend your free time
  • Give back to your community
  • Teach others what you know
  • If you need something done, always ask the busiest person because you know those are the go-getters who will help you get it done

Which brings me back to me.  I take those lessons seriously, and that is why I get all tied up in many activities.  At times that means stress and I’m ok with that.  Mostly, it brings love, community, and help back to me.  I do believe in karma.

Take a minute today and share who inspires you and why in the comments.  I’d love to hear about it.


  • Trish – as usal, an excellent piece of writing filled with great thoughts and a great story. I love reading this kind of stuff – the things that make us who we are.

    each and every one of us out there does indeed tell a story. I am happy that you are around to share yours, and I appreicate that you enjoy some of mine.

    Can’t wait to meet you next week!


  • amazing post Trisha – I also believe in karma (I tend towards Buddhism more than any other spirituality) and am deeply touched by your open soul and candor – life is a rich and humbling journey, and appreciate your willingness to share

    thanks much, have a terrific day

  • What a beautiful story. Your dad was quite a man and you are right to be so proud of him……and blessed to have been inspired by him.

    I’d like to bring another perspective into this discussion. People are all different. Two children raised by the same parents can end up with completely different values. That you were inspired to carry on his moral values says as much about you as it does your father.

    There are some of us who carried on high moral values in spite of our parents not because of them. My inspiration came from the determination that I would never be like my father. That sounds awful but it is my truth. My inspiration was the awareness of what was wrong and deciding not to follow that path.

    I tried to teach my children to be kind, moral and generous of heart. Mostly I wanted them to have a strong sense of self from where everything else can grow.

  • The comment about continuing to challenge yourself as an adult really hits me hard. I was so stereotyping this elderly gentleman last week. Then he turned out to be going for his master’s degree and had more then enough money to just quit and stay home in front of the TV.

    There are so many stories (like yours, Trish) that can shape your world view for the better, if you just take the time to listen.

  • Trish, you are a kindred who I’ve never met face to face. I enjoyed this article about you and your dad. Those who have inspired me are my mom, my dad, and my husband, all for different reasons, but I know that each has played a role in shaping who I am today, and how I work and play.

  • Thanks for this look into inspiration. As I’ve moved through many assignments in my career, I get to those days where in a meeting we all share a little about our backgrounds. I usually describe that I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people in my life, and when you work with me, you get a little bit of each of them.
    As my current team leader says, we bring the best of our team, even when only one of us is working with a client.
    Your dad’s story is great, and it gave me a moment to remember my dad, who’s been gone for 16 years now. My inspirational person today is my mother, who will turn 88 next week, and never seems to let a problem go unsolved.
    I hope to have her patience as I continue to grow, and her longevity would be a plus!

  • You do have the an incredible gift of painting a picture with words; it’s like I’m meeting him, shaking his hand and saying nice to meet you Sir.

    Your story reminded me to think back on growing up on those influencer’s in my life, some good and some bad. There are so many over the years yet so few that I reference back to for guidance even to this day. I still think about something they said or did, told me or showed me.

    My question is why is it that so few have such a major impact on our lives. Putting in context, I’ve met tens of thousands of people over a lifetime(maybe more) and for me (thus far) only a handful have influenced how I think, act and “do”.

    My point, which is mainly intended for myself is to always remember you’re always influencing someone in some way. I’m hopefully doing a lot of good things, if not I need my ass kicked! Thanks again for sharing Trish, please just continue to be you!

    Bryan –

Comments are closed.

Dad with Trish
Dad with Trish
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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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