A voice from the past reminds John of the power of one.
Do you ever have days where you ask yourself the self-defeating question: Why do I even bother? Sure, sometimes it’s asked in different ways- Do I matter? Do I make a difference? Does my work here impact anything?– but we’ve all had those days.
Last week, my friends from Hollywood filmed a scene for the On Fire movie that reminded me of the unseen impact we all have the potential to make- even if it takes 25 years to realize it. Let me explain.
You may remember that when recovering in the hospital as a nine-year-old boy, I had a nurse that challenged me every day to get up, look forward, and dream again. He was a giant man, bore a striking resemblance to Apollo Creed, and he’d carry me just above the ground, my feet dangling between his, and say, “Boy, you are going to walk again. And I’ll walk with you.”
That encouragement (abuse?) went on for the entire five months I was in hospital. Although I wouldn’t take my first step for several more months, it was that one man, his vision and his encouragement that empowered me to walk again.
After being released from the hospital, I kept in touch with many of the nurses and doctors who served me. An entire table at my wedding reception was filled with those friends. But Roy had left the hospital shortly after my release; and we’d never been able to find him.
Nearly 25 years later, though, Alabama Power- a client I had spent all summer with- tracked down this amazing man who was so instrumental to my story. They contacted him, explained to him how I spoke about him, and asked if they could fly him in to reunite with me.
And apparently, he’d said yes because I was soon staring at a man I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. Nurse freaking Roy!
He hadn’t aged. He still looked just like Apollo Creed. And he was giving me a huge bear hug.
I was speechless.
Tears filled my eyes.
What a moment.
Roy and I sat down to dinner that night. The last time we’d eaten together, I was on morphine, tied to a bed, with nutrition coming in through a feeding tube. Now we were sitting at dinner, flanked by new friends from Alabama Power, celebrating this amazing reunion, and absolutely on fire with joy. It was a night I’ll never forget.
Near the end of the night Roy and I had a few minutes by ourselves to reconnect. We talked about my time in the hospital, those brutal bandage changes, and the daily walks to the tub. We talked about difficult nurses and old friends. We shared what we’d both been up to for the last twenty-four years. I told him about my family; he shared with me about his. He then leaned over and said, “You know, John, it surprises me that you did something with your life.”
The same sentiment has been shared with me several times by high school teachers from my past. But this time I felt it was intended as a compliment. You see, when a child is burned, sometimes he or she makes it out of the hospital, but not back into life. The emotional journey is just too painful. I understood what Roy was saying.
So, I said, “Thanks, Roy.”
“You know what surprises me even more, though?”
I shook my head no.
“How you were able to marry such a beautiful woman!” He chuckled.
“Wow. Thanks, Roy. I am glad they found you!”
We both laughed.
Then he said, “John, in all seriousness, do you know what surprises me the most about all of this? About this dinner, this reunion, this whole thing?”
“I don’t think I want to hear this one, Roy!“
“Well, I am going to tell you.”
He took a sip of his ice water. He looked into my eyes. He took a long pause. Then he said, “It is to learn that after twenty- four years, I mattered. John, I did my job, I loved my work, I loved my patients. But I never really understood until today that I mattered.”
“You did, man. You did.” I swallowed, the emotion catching up with me.
What about you? Do you ever wonder what impact you could make through your life?
My friends, today, I remind you that those who serve others put themselves in line for great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation and great joy.
Choose to be like Roy. Choose to be a difference maker. Choose to tap into the power of one. Choose to actively serve others professionally and personally.
And then rest assured the great return granted those who choose to make a significant impact.
Today is your day. Live Inspired.