Inspiration often comes from surprising places. Take these shoes, for example. You call them ugly, I call them… unexpected.
They’re half a size too big, but they were on sale for under $40.00 (that’s less than $20 a shoe!…) and in a sea of black pumps, they called out to me. I paid the adoption fee, and took them home to their new closet. Where they sat for six months, alongside a pair of equally neglected leopard pattern pony hair heels.
I had a big meeting to attend yesterday and hemmed and hawed over what to wear. Hmm, which black on black combination will I break out today? My work wardrobe is nothing if not uninspired during these hazy, hot, and humid days of summer. And then I saw these babies peeking out from the recesses of my look-in (it’s like a walk-in, but different) and heard their Siren song once more. They brightened up my outfit and my attitude. Double whammy!
I marched to my meeting with confidence. And I tried to play it cool when, inevitably, one of the heels became lodged between two cobblestones. I can always count on Boston sidewalks to keep my ego in check.
Speaking of egos, the 2010 class was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Nick was watching for Emmit Smith, and I was half-paying attention, half-reading Marie Claire. When Floyd Little took the stage, however, I became captivated. This was a man destined to stand before a microphone. I was delighted to find the full text of his speech online, as his words were truly inspiring.
Here is an excerpt:
There’s no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final sports chapter in my life. This is obviously the highest honor any football player can garner. I stand here today celebrating my athletic life journey, and I understand significant. Everything else pales in comparison. Every player wakes up wishing to have this honor. I encourage you all to continue to dream for this moment. I have been favored by God and by those who have had a say in what happens to me.
But the road was not always so easy and clear. I remember being a strong but angry young man in school. I used my strength in ways that became my weakness. After being kicked out of school, I had reached an impasse in my life. Everything was done. My hopes were shattered and done. And then I had a vision from my late father that came to me and said, Floyd, I’ve chosen you to take my place, to do what I could not do, and to finish what I could not finish.
I came to myself. With the help of those who saw the good in me, I was re-enrolled back in school with determination. Not only did I become the president of my class, but I started my journey as a leader in everything that I did, and I never looked back.
Because of those that encouraged me in those early years, I am here today. So I want to encourage you, every student, every athlete, every person who will hear my voice, don’t listen to the naysayer. I had plenty of those. Don’t listen to those that will judge you for your rough edges. Don’t focus on your weakness so you won’t become a victim. Find the goodness in you that says, Yes, I can be a good student. Yes, I can be a good son and daughter. Yes, I can be a positive role model. Yes, I can, because the good in you is better than the worst in most. The choice is yours. Be the best that you can be.
I truly believe that none of us is anything until the least of us is something. The great writer James Baldwin said, Naked I came into this world and naked I shall leave. We are bound to leave everything we accomplished in this lifetime behind, passing it on. So leave a legacy that you and your family can be proud.
I’ve given you the best that I’ve got. And I’m a better person for it. Thank you for being here with me and for me. I thank God for His favor today, and may God bless us all. Thank you so much.
Amazing, right? Admit it, you kind of like the shoes, too.
Also On Tap for Today:
What’s inspiring you these days?