Think back over your life for a moment. Who do you admire the most? Who has had the greatest influence on who you are today?
Every year, the Gallup Organization comes out with their annual survey of the Most Admired Men and Women. We see the names of Presidents, First Ladies, business tycoons, media moguls and other movers and shakers on the list.
Most of us admire the rich, the famous and the powerful. I think I’ve probably done that most of my life. We watch them on television. We see them at conventions. We see them at all sorts of places.
But I’m not sure I admire them quite the way I used to.
Now, I look up to people that are kind and compassionate. Men and women who give back into the community. Those whose passion lies in seeing others do well, and not just their own self-interest.
I find myself in humble admiration of those who make it their life’s work to help others enjoy a better life.
It’s the dedicated teachers who dig deep to make sure their students have all of the the school supplies they need. It’s the doctors, nurses and therapists who go the extra mile to provide compassionate care with a friendly smile. And so many others in every industry, who treat their jobs as an act of service, and not just a paycheck.
We have so many benefits in this country. We have so many privileges in this country. And many people don’t have what you and I have.
That’s why it heartens me to see more than 77 million everyday Americans sharing nearly 7 billion hours volunteering in the past year. According to the most recent report, U.S. volunteers freely provided $167 billion worth of services for the many outstanding nonprofit organizations who serve our neighbors.
We saw that giving spirit alive and well last fall, when so many people invested tens of thousands of hours providing food, water and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Michael. Time and again we’ve seen a similar outpouring of love after other natural disasters.
All across our country there are generous professionals offering homework help, encouragement and a listening ear to the deserving kids who attend Boys and Girls Clubs.
We hear one story after another of neighbors helping neighbors, co-workers lending a hand to a colleague in need and communities coming together to uplift those in despair. In spite of all the negativity that often fills our airwaves and Facebook feeds, it’s these stories of kindness that give us reason to hope for a brighter future.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to find that cause that you care about and go out and make a difference.
If you’re wealthy, congratulations. If you’re famous, well done.
But at the end of your time on this earth, what have you done? How have you made this place a better place than when you arrived?
I think it’s important that you figure out how to be kind, and gentle, compassionate to other people.
What is that cause? It may be caring for the poor, providing shelter to the homeless or food for the hungry. It may be caring about relationships. It might be working to clean up our environment.
Go out and find your passion, and spend some time on it, and I’ll follow you all the way.
And tell me about someone you admire. What do you feel are the most important things to admire about someone?