I was absolutely inspired by a story on ESPN this week – the story of a young athlete named Latipha Cross. Latipha grew up in Detroit, under unbelievably tough circumstances – abandonment, poverty, abuse, and homelessness.
She was angry at the circumstances of her life, and rightfully so. But here’s the key: she channeled that anger…into running. Though homeless and alone as a teenager, she managed to keep herself in school and do so well on the track team that several colleges took notice.
Just as she was about to take her amazing talents to the next level, she was diagnosed with cancer. Even that didn’t stop her. While undergoing chemotherapy, she managed to compete and win track meets. Not only did she win – she broke the record!
Latipha was offered a full scholarship to Eastern Michigan University, giving her the chance to live her dream of becoming a social worker. She was absolutely thrilled to learn that she would be given an education just for running. And with that education came a home in a dormitory – she would no longer be homeless.
Just as her life was taking this wonderful and exciting turn, she was diagnosed with a second type of cancer.
And still…she did not give up.
This takes being a champion to a whole new level of respect in my book. I am blown away by this young woman’s story. The late Zig Ziglar said, “Attitude, not Aptitude, determines Altitude.” Latipha’s story illustrates this so well.
We hear a lot about bad attitudes. As Kary Oberbrunner mentioned in last week’s Leadership Insight show, bad attitudes abound in the workplace. A bad attitude is easy. A good attitude is harder, especially if you’re faced with adversity. And yet, there are people in the most difficult situations who have the best attitudes. These are those who make a difference and inspire all of us.
Leaders, can you imagine what your team could do if everyone, starting with you, had the kind of attitude that Latipha has?