Greetings. Thanksgiving is a day when many newspapers offer upbeat stories about people in their communities who are making a real difference. Neighbors helping other neighbors in a time of need. People coming together to provide food for the hungry among us. Soldiers coming home to the welcoming arms of family, friends and even strangers who stop to thank them for their service in protecting the freedoms we hold dear. People overcoming great odds to achieve a dream that some thought was beyond reach. It's a day to pause and be thankful in the face of challenges. To count our blessings. To appreciate the simple things. To honor the people and things that really matter.
And on the front page of today's Washington Post is a wonderful story that strikes a powerful cord. It's a story about a remarkable young teacher and football coach at Coolidge High School in the District of Columbia. A high school whose students often face great obstacles and distractions on their journeys to academic and life success. A school that will today play in the City's championship football game (also known as the "Turkey Bowl") against Dunbar High. And while the Coolidge High Colts are rarely in this game, Dunbar is a perennial power.
But what's more amazing than this year's success on the field is the fact that the real focus of the Coolidge team is on becoming the most successful students and people–a commitment driven home by Natalie Randolph–their coach, mentor and biggest fan. And, quite possibly, the only woman currently coaching a high school football team anywhere in America. A woman whose own life, in addition to teaching environmental science, is driven by a passion for helping every one of her students and team members to learn, build character and reach their full potential. To resist the strong temptations of teenage life and the surrounding streets in exchange for discipline, focus, teamwork and success in the classroom first and on the football field second.
Whether you are a football fan or even a sports fan, the story of Coolidge High and Natalie Randolph will challenge your thinking about leadership, caring and the things that matter most. And about one person's ability, in a relatively short time, to making a compelling difference in the lives of others.
We win in business and in life when we give our undivided attention to bringing out the genius in others. It might be the single greatest act of genius in a world filled with possibilities.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!