When I think of heroes, I’m almost always reminded that we are all sinners. We all fall short, and none of us is perfect. So many people we think of as heroes never saw themselves that way, and some we may never consider heroes in any respect very likely saw themselves as one.
Matt introduced me to this version of a “virtual mastermind” about three years ago. My original construction was crude, and his input gave my table legs, so to speak.
Every year or so, I re-construct my round table, because I know I’m still evolving. Likewise, there are no “lifetime” posts at my table. Each member “earns the right” based on who I am and where I’m at on my own journey.
As I was crafting this year’s list, I noted how infrequently my current contacts made the list. Since the Round Table is essentially a “best of” it rarely reflects the role that real-life people play on a daily basis. So this year I created two lists. My “IRL” list can be found on my blog.
Here’s my Round Table – in no particular order:
Not the namby-pamby, lowly carpenter guy, but the guy Bruce Barton writes about in his turn of the century best-seller, “The Man Nobody Knows“. The charismatic marketer (yes, I said “marketer”), compassionate BS-caller, and open-minded healer of hearts and minds. This dude was amazing – no matter what your faith. He was a rabble rouser, wave maker, and willing to die for his cause. He believed in his “business” so strongly that people were compelled to love him, hate him, follow him, or get out of the way. He understood people – and how meeting the needs of people would heal the world more than some religious dogma.
He’s Italian, for one. A dreamer and a do-er that wasn’t afraid to invent fanciful things that couldn’t be created in his lifetime. He invented with a bigger picture and on a grander scale. He wrote backwards – and I maintain that it was for the ease of writing with your left hand. I’ve been practicing it and find it’s a lot easier to write in cursive backwards with your left hand than it is to try to write it forwards.
Raised in Port Huron, this kid was an entrepreneur from the get-go. Selling his own “newspaper” on the trains to raise money for his first serious science lab set-up as a kid. He sees the necessity of invention as well as the necessity of commercial success. So much of our modern world has been made possible by this one man’s inventive mind.
Charles Stewart Mott
Mott moved to Flint at the behest of William Durant – the founder of General Motors. He sold off his interest in the family farms – that would later become Mott’s applesauce – to study engineering. Eventually, he turned the family’s other business – bicycle wheels – into a division of Buick and became a VP of General Motors. All that success and the fact that he’s a huge benefactor to our community are only icing on the cake for me. Mott’s greatest achievement, in my estimation, is the one that often goes unnoticed. In 1929, he bailed out a failing bank after the market crashed, saving thousands of depositors from losing everything. It cost him more than $1M of his own money, and had he not ponied up himself, the other investors would not have likely followed suit. His charisma and willingness to do the right thing encouraged those investor-types to save the lives of countless Flint depositors. He didn’t have to bail out that bank. He did it because it was the right thing to do.
The same guy that’s erroneously credited with saying “there’s a sucker born every minute” actually did say this: “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot — it is still an immortal spirit.” A great persuasive speaker, this man was not just about the almighty dollar.
Yeah, I’m sure this one turns a few heads, for obvious reasons, but like several of the other folks here, it’s not what’s commonly known that makes her a valuable asset to my round table. See, Margaretha Zelle, as she was born, was a creative, inventive woman. When her ex husband left her with nothing – and made a point of making sure no one else would help her either – she left Holland to start a new life, create a new identity and reinvent herself in Paris. Even her own shortcomings (she was incredibly self-conscious about her flat chest) didn’t stop her from pushing the envelope on living her own truth. Ultimately, it would be her own undoing, but even as she faced the firing squad, unbound, unapologetic for who she was, Mata Hari wasn’t afraid to face the music of being who she really was.
Fictional though he may be, Mac was smart. He used his brains to figure out problems instead of brute force. Mac was the first “brainiac” action hero of my childhood – and gave me hope that nerds like me could make a difference in the gun-totin’ society we’ve developed today. I learned how to not just “make do” but make miracles – by starting with what I’ve already got.
This is a space I’ve reserved for the daily/weekly/monthly folks that pass into my sphere for a short term stint. These are the “Jack Dalton’s” of my life that have a major impact on me for a time, and then pass their seat to another. Like Les, who lets me sit at his feet from time to time, too. Or Einstein, who’s too heady at times for my tastes, but definitely knows how to have fun. Or “Charlie’s Angels” who make an occasional appearance when I need to kick some ass. It’s also the seat that evens the keel. I read a LOT, and whenever I’m auditioning new members for the round table, this is where they make their first appearance. This is “the chair of the revolving door”, I suppose, but it would be unfair to not make room for these influential people I discover along my journey.
Like I said, not everyone on this list would make your final cut, but every one is a hero to me for their depth of character and willingness to be themselves. That’s one of my core themes for this year, and the guiding force behind much of what I’m about in the world today.
Next year, who knows?