Angels Pay it Forward, We Should Too
Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have. ~ Robin S Sharma
We lost one of the truly special ones this week an angel. Her name was Cheryl Hogle (pictured above from my time in Plattsburgh) and happily I got to tell her this in person a couple of years ago in Pensacola. Cheryl was one of the single most important people in my becoming a professional. She, at a time when she had no business doing it, looked at a guy who had thoroughly abused drugs and alcohol to the point of failing out of college, who was overweight, had bad hair, was badly dressed, a wise-ass who didn’t know when to shut up, and who looked far worse since he was usually standing next to Bryan Hartman. A person who is the epitome of the opposite of my description, and she said I want to give you a job with a ton of responsibility because you can handle it. She was right and it changed my life. What makes her more special is she did this for hundreds, likely thousands of others in her life. There are a lot of tears being shed, mine among them. My only hope is that at the end of my life, I have earned 1/10 of the love and respect Cheryl Hogle has earned.
I met Cheryl Hogle at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh. I transferred there after failing out of my first college the Rochester Institute of Technology. I was more than a bit cynical about attending SUNY Plattsburgh, the tour guides, the admissions counselors and later the orientation folks again and again talked about SUNY Plattsburgh as a special place. I didn’t buy it, but it seemed like a good school and it was a positive move forward, so I went. Man was I wrong, over my three years at SUNY Plattsburgh, I would come to not only agree but become a huge advocate for how incredibly special that college is. I’ve thought about it for years, why? What makes that place special? Maybe it’s the unbelievably bitter cold of Adirondack winters, perhaps that builds camaraderie, perhaps only the best can survive it. Maybe it’s the staff, the faculty, maybe it’s something in the water? Doesn’t matter, it quite simply is what it is and I’m thankful to have experienced it. My three years there were some of the best of my life. I don’t have a lot of close friends, but many of them come from my time there.
My first year I was elected Dorm Council President for my dorm. Cheryl Hogle was the advisor to that group. During the spring semester Resident Assistant applications went in, Cheryl encouraged me to apply. I was surprised, I didn’t have a lot of confidence at that point in my life, but hell, free room and board and a single room, I was in. I was accepted and started the selection process. Cheryl Hogle did a wonderful job of not only training us, but really driving home the importance and responsibility of the job, that we in fact had people’s lives in our hands. I was proud to be selected and true to her words, had a couple of incidents, an epileptic student with a grand mal seizure on the street in the middle of winter, a student with a severe asthma attack, students who cut themselves and were dealing with all manner of psychological issues. The training and the responsibility within that job was far more than I could have ever imagined taking on at that time in my life. It made me a better person and instilled in me a confidence and sense of responsibility that in a large part, is responsible for my career success.
I’ve chosen to work in education and specifically at the community college level. I hope that the work that I have done, has had some of the same impact on the students, faculty and staff that I have worked with, that Cheryl had on so many people. It’s my attempt to pay forward what was given to me by Cheryl and so many others that helped and mentored me through my education and early career. The Ministry of Happiness is another way I try to do this.
There are a couple of points that I want you to get out of this post tonight. First, tell those folks who have helped you what they mean to you. I got to tell Cheryl, many did, her Facebook page is covered with testimonials similar to mine about what she did for people. Tell people, you’re old teachers, mentors, parents, whomever helped you.
Secondly, pay it forward, the way you can best honor the folks who did this for you, is to do it for someone else. It’s the best way to help others and yourself, have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane