Most of us are fortunate to have inspirational people in our lives. I count myself luckier than most, as I can easily think of five such individuals that have had a hand in forming my character and guiding me along the path of life. They’ve helped make me the individual that I am today and serve as examples for continued improvement going forward.
Number One: My father, Ken Grove. My father was the first person in his family to graduate from college. He attended Virginia Military Institute, starting in 1957 when he was 16 years old. After graduation, he worked for 40 years for the same company, Atlantic Research Corporation, developing multiple launch rocket systems. He drove 80 miles one way, leaving our home at 3 a.m. and returning often after 9:00 p.m. After my father retired, he worked for the United Nations as a weapons inspector in Iraq. Now he’s 78 and is still not really retired. He joined the Parks and Recreation Department in Front Royal, Virginia, where he was named employee of the year in 2013. Growing up, he instilled in me the importance of hard work and competence. He provided a very comfortable life style for my mom, my siblings and me, and provided an excellent example for us all.
Number Two: the CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation, John Dooley. I met John when I was a 19-year old college student and spent summers working for the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center where John was the Virginia Tech extension agent. John is now the CEO of the Virginia Tech Foundation. John taught me a lot about both leadership, sales and communications and how to interact with people on many different levels. He also pointed out that there is a time for work and a time for play. He made it very clear to me that work was first. He became a mentor of mine and now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he has been for the last 30 years. The four kernels of wisdom he imparted to me are: Listen, Learn, Be Knowledgeable and Share.
Number Three: The Standards Specialist at the Arkansas Department of Education, Tim Barnes. Tim was my “Big Brother” in my college fraternity. When I met him, he was a fifth year senior teaching at an elementary school in Arkadelphia, Arkansas while leading our fraternity, and he’s still one of my best friends to this day. I’m not sure I would have made it through college without him. He taught me about structure, where to focus my efforts and to expand my role in the fraternity. I was content just to belong, but he encouraged me to get involved, and my senior year, I became president leading a group of 60 men. Tim married a wonderful woman who was a single mom. He and his wife found out they weren’t able to have more children, so they adopted two children from India. Tim is one of the most generous, kind-hearted people I know. He’s incredibly humble, he does a lot, and he doesn’t take credit for any of it.
Number four: Jesus Christ. I believe in a higher power and I try and emulate Him in as many ways as I can the older I get. I haven’t always lived exactly like he did, but I try to do the best I can. There’s a saying I ascribe to, “Spread the Gospels - use words if necessary.”
Number five: The Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison. My wife isn’t thrilled about it, but I have a huge picture of Jim Morrison in my sunroom and I really enjoy seeing it every day. I’ve listened to The Doors since I was about 13 years old. I enjoy poetry, and there’s no better poet than Jim Morrison. His lyrics are very inspirational, and I find a sense of inner strength in his words.
Inspiring role models are found in all walks of life. Where and how have you met some of yours?