Unusual people and events have powerfully shaped my life, and the lessons I’ve learned from them are the roots of my unrelenting passion. My grandmother was my earliest inspiration. She taught kindergarten in New York City for 40 years, and when I visited her class, I felt like the most important person in the world. My grandmother made everyone feel like the most important person in the world.
She’d give one child a compliment and give another a helping hand. She’d read to one group while answering questions from another. She’d separate two ﬁghting ﬁve-year-olds and manage to make them both feel good. And the end of the day, she reassured every parent that his or her messy, noisy, rambunctious child was the most precious miracle in her classroom.
What amazed me was my grandmother’s ability to do this all day, all year, for 40 years. Every time she made a child smile, she seemed to get more energized, like her battery was being charged over and over again. She got as much juice out of teaching the kids as they got from being with her. The lesson I learned from watching my grandmother work was as clear to me then as it is today: providing service to someone else gives you something back. Making other people feel good somehow makes you stronger. Grandma Bea was the ﬁrst great teacher in my life. Her intention to serve was the most memorable thing about her. She called it love.
Who was the unusual inspiration in your life?