Passion Powering Drive

The Last Word from the Editor

As I’m writing this, the last day of the Olympics is playing out. I watched this morning as a 41-year-old American tried his best to win the marathon. In prior years, he had won races in New York City and Boston, a silver medal in Athens in 2004. But this time he came in 33rd.  

Most importantly, he tried and never gave up running. In fact, he slipped and fell on the wet pavement just as he approached the finish line. But he managed to get his palms over the finish line — and then did a couple of pushups.

Med Keflezighi was born in Eritrea and remembers eating dirt as a child to ease hunger pangs. At the age of 12, he emigrated to the U.S. and eventually became a citizen. Today, he is the oldest Olympic marathoner in our history and a class act.

Some amazing stories came out of this year’s games in Rio. One of my personal favorites was the $4,500 horse who with his owner/rider finished just outside the medals in fourth place in freestyle Grand Prix dressage — beating out competing horses that are worth in the hundreds of thousands. In nearly every sport, there were stories of years of hard work and sacrifice and perseverance with the goal of one day appearing on an Olympic medal stand.

Those Olympians discovered their passion and they worked hard to achieve it. The same can be said for the women we have featured in this issue, winners of the 2016 Pinnacle Award, all of whom have made outstanding contributions to the 850 region. These women are part of the heart and soul of our various communities, leaders who have worked to make Northwest Florida a better place for all of us who are lucky enough to call this area our home.

As in past years, I had not met these honorees before chatting with them. Each was gracious enough to share her thoughts, history and hopes with me. I couldn’t include everything they told me on the pages of the magazine, but I hope we have given you enough information to demonstrate their mettle and their drive to succeed in business and their personal lives.

What I found particularly interesting this year is how several of these women began working at a very early age. Some changed careers along the way to follow their true passion. But all put their heart and soul into what they do. They love the career path they have chosen, from helping to guide an expansion of the largest credit union in the world to helping a spouse achieve his dream of opening a brewery. And all have made an impact on their community.

 Once more, as I do in every October issue, I’ll harken back to the words of Sojourner Truth, the African-American abolitionist and women’s rights advocate who was born into slavery but managed to escape to freedom with her child.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.”

As we go about our personal and professional lives, it helps to sometimes take a step back and reflect on what we do. Is this our passion? Do we want to put in our all to succeed? Do we whine and blame others for our lack of success? Or do we put our heart and soul into what we do to be the best we can be? 

The Olympics is over now, and many of the athletes who took center stage in Rio for two weeks will either go into a well-deserved retirement — Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt immediately come to mind — or start training for the summer games in Japan four years from now. But hopefully we have learned some lessons from these games and these athletes — and from the amazing women who are our Pinnacle winners this year.

Categories: Opinion