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.
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.
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.