Last week I got to shake hands with Tommy Lasorda. This week, I met and spoke with Jim Thome. Both men are legends in sports and probably in life in general. And yes, it was nice to meet both.
For me, a legend is someone who is committed to doing the very best he or she can do and passionate about overcoming the challenges and obstacles that stand in the way of that commitment. Legends are found in all walks of life, to be sure. Do I think legends are perfect? Certainly not. They’re human. While meeting these two men was exciting, I recall that the most impressive person I ever met was while I was in college.
Christine Jorgenson was invited to speak at a women’s symposium on campus my senior year. She was forthright and candid about her life story and challenges she had to overcome. I’ve read her autobiography and I know her story. She wasn’t there to persuade but rather, she was there to share information and let us each make our own decisions. Christine didn’t appreciate patronizing questions and as for stupid ones – she didn’t do stupid at all. She was passionate about sharing her story with others, to let them know that she understood and appreciated how they might be facing personal issues. She was captivating throughout her entire presentation. Perhaps it was her own expression of passion, or perhaps it was her way of paying forward something that was given to her – a word of encouragement and support in a nonjudgmental way – that made her presentation so effective.
What I remember most was the brief meeting Christine and I had after the symposium. She encouraged me to never apologize for being passionate about something that was close to my heart. Her words have stuck with me for a whole lot more years than I really care to admit, even though our meeting was no more than five minutes, at best. Even in low moments, Christine’s words have been a guiding light for me, encouraging me to remain true to my commitment. I understand better the importance of following my passion, of inviting others to share the journey in their own way, and remaining true to making a difference. Christine Jorgenson made a lasting positive impression and I’m forever grateful to that legendary individual.