But there’s ONE number that matters most.
As we head toward the end of December and put a bow not only on Christmas presents, but on 2022, it’s wise to be a bit reflective about the year we’re concluding to ready us for the one we’re about to begin.
And although there are many ways to summarize a year, we wanted to share a few numbers that mattered most to us as we conclude 2022.
And to thank you for being part of it.
A friend involved in a car accident several years ago once shared that he’d do anything to have the joy of being able to move his legs and walk again. He looked at me sternly and challenged me to never take for granted the gifts of life – in particular the gift of walking. Last year, I took 2,737,500 steps. Grateful for each one.
Over the past couple years, Covid has brought profound struggles and challenges in all of our lives. We lost friends and family members to the disease. We were unable to visit friends in hospitals or retirement homes. Our children weren’t able to go to school. Entire industries were ravaged and perhaps none more than travel and conferences. When Covid began, it totally shut down all the typical travel related to my speaking engagements, and it was slow to recover. But in 2022, I had the pleasure of traveling to several countries, visiting 28 states, speaking in-person more than 75 different times and flying 124,000+ miles. My favorite city remains St. Louis, but it was an honor and a joy to travel the world again, observe the beauty of creation and visit with friends.
Virtual events can be powerful as we quickly bring people together, communicate messages, and get everyone on the same page. We were fortunate to present at dozens of events virtually with many thousands of new friends. And yet, there is something about being physically with people, shaking hands, hugging, hearing stories, crying together, laughing together and doing life together that is vitally important as humans. This year I had the honor of speaking live and meeting afterwards more than 25,000 people. Each handshake, every hug, and all the stories moved me deeply and remain with me.
There is so much negativity, divisiveness and cynicism in the marketplace today. We strive to push through that with a radically different message, and through the power of technology, to influence lives around the world. Between the tweets and posts and podcasts and social media and newsletters, we’ve been able to provide positive impressions and encouragement to more than 12,000,000 people in 50 states and 160 countries. Unbelievable!
All the numbers above I celebrate, but this one I mourn. While cleaning up my contact list in my phone, this number startled me. I have 14 contacts in my phone who have passed away. My Grandfather. Grandma. Father-in-law. Godfather. An Uncle. Two Aunts. A few friends, a couple of clients and a doctor. They remain influential in my life. And remain in my contact list.
I love this number. Much of the work we do requires me in a studio or the office or on the road. And yet the reason I strive professionally to positively change the world is to make that world a little better for the people I come home to. My wife Beth and our kids Jack, Patrick, Henry and Grace inform both the drive to make things better as well as the desire to race back to them each day.
A girls’ trip taken by my mother and her four daughters in November meant Dad, who is homebound with Parkinson’s disease, would require a companion for the weekend. It was treasured time with my dad who in spite of all his struggles remains a constant source of joy and humor. And last year I sought to be more engaged with the two people who raised me, love me and continue to profoundly inspire me: my parents. They are steadfast reminders of the power of hope in the midst of despair, humor in the midst of struggle and faith in the midst of the storm.
Sometimes we get lost in the bigger numbers. Whether it’s a big financial goal or number of online followers or some other measurement of success, the number one reminds us what matters most. We have one life to live and must act like it matters. We live it one day at a time and shouldn’t waste a single one. We influence change in the world one person at a time and our individual lives matter. And from my faith perspective, I’m reminded that I have one God guiding all these miles flown, steps taken and words spoken. Somehow the Author of Life loves us individually and calls us to reflect that perfect love. We should strive to do so.
My friends, regardless the numbers you use to track this past year, or the numbers you use advancing into 2023, know that your life matters. And know that you being part of our community, part of our work and part of our lives matters to us.
We are grateful for you and your life.
We are here for you if we can ever serve you.
And we love you, and no, there is nothing you can do about it.
This is your ONE day. Live Inspired.
John O’Leary and the Live Inspired Team