This is a topic I wish I wasn’t writing about today. But I feel compelled to do it anyway. I don’t usually talk about my days as an athlete but this is a soul-baring kind of post so to give you a little context, when I was a 5’4” tall high school senior, I jumped over a 5’10” bar to become the girls’ state high jump champion in Texas. Seven years earlier, the person who taught my knobby-kneed, awkward, 10-year-old self how to high jump was Ray Myers. Aside from my dad, Ray was one of my earliest and best coaches and mentors. And I found myself posting this tribute to him on social media on Monday morning this week:
My first coach and one of my earliest mentors died this weekend. Ray Myers was my age group track coach. He taught me how to high jump and hurdle and more importantly he taught me how to be a competitor and a hard worker who never gives up. He said dynamite comes in small packages and because of him I never feel smaller than women who are 4 or 5 inches taller than I am. He even taught me how to think differently about having a father who didn’t want to be in my life...because I had a dad who did. I told Ray what an impact he made in my life several years ago, and today I'm reminded that another chance to say those things is never guaranteed. This side of eternity is a little dimmer today because Ray has passed but I know I'll see him on the other side.
And so today I have to say this. Don’t wait another day to express your gratitude. I’m glad I got to tell Ray what a difference he made in my life. But 15 years have slipped away in the meantime. I was gearing up to tell him again. He’s one of the coaches and mentors I acknowledged in a book I co-authored that releases on May 1. But Ray died on April 15. He’ll never see the signed copy of the book I meant to send him with the inscription I meant to write. And I won’t get another chance on this side of eternity to tell him how, even 38 years later, he is still a touchstone in my life.
Who are the Rays in your life? Who do you need to call or write or email or at least text today to say:
Thank you. Here’s how you made a difference in my life. Here’s how I’m a better, stronger person because of you.
Don’t wait another day. Do it today! Be specific. And don’t be afraid to bare your soul a little. I promise you it will be the best gift that person has gotten in a very long time. And ultimately, it will be one of the best gifts you can give to yourself too.
Kim Turnage, Ph.D. works as a Senior Leadership Consultant for Talent Plus and with her colleague Larry Sternberg is author of Managing to Make a Difference. She writes regularly on leadership and everything that goes along with it. Find more of her work here.