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Why Me

A few times a month

I find myself thinking that I should thank Franco Harris for making me the person I am today.

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#32 of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Franco Harris, in the midst of the “Immaculate Reception” at the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff against the Oakland Raiders, December 23, 1972.

You know Franco, #32, star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Franco, the man who immortalized the “Immaculate Reception.” Out of nowhere on a final desperation pass from Terry Bradshaw to another teammate, Franco scooped the deflected, about to be incomplete pass from his shoe tops and raced down the sidelines with no time on the clock giving the stunned, Steeler faithful their first playoff victory. It is an iconic play for all football fans. For me, it has always been more.

For me, the “Immaculate Reception” has always symbolized the concept of never giving up… a value which is central to my very being.

I ALWAYS believe there is a solution. I ALWAYS believe I will find the answer. I ALWAYS believe there is a way to succeed. I have drawn on that emotion thousands of times….facing challenges at work, overcoming vexing problems, persevering when most others would move on. Intellect will get you only so far. Persistence, regardless of the odds, will make all the difference. I doubt if Franco’s heroics actually formed that belief for me, however, his memorable play created an enduring inspiration.

I read the news every day…

Religiously. If nothing else, I place great importance on being informed. More than that, however, I am constantly inspired reading about successes and failures, new ideas and old mistakes, heart wrenching tragedies and exhilarating accomplishments. Even the obituaries inspire me to reflect on the purpose of life.

Millennium Park

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millenium Park, in Chicago, Illinois.

Recently, I read a statement from a renowned landscape architect who said, “It is an absolute fact that parks have to be reinvented as society changes.” That comment captures a philosophy I have brought to every job throughout my career. I believe an organization has to get better every day, which means to me that status quo must be questioned. The world is changing at warp speed, yet so many people and organizations believe they are doing an acceptable job continuing to do what works fine today.

I have always encouraged my colleagues and myself to think big… to think outside the box. It takes consistent encouragement to achieve this attitude. It is as if people are worried that new ideas will be laughed at and criticized. It is essential instead that people realize their new ideas will lead to growth and advancement. But, their boss must first embrace that belief. I do.