Obviously, this is going to be a very subjective and personal list. Isn’t it interesting that flaws we see in some people are completely overlooked in the people we like? No one is perfect. That’s not what this list is about. This is a list focused on specific things that I admire about these famous people and how they inspire me in different ways.
- Temple Grandin – She didn’t speak until she was 4 and her mother was told to institutionalize her because she had autism. Fast forward to 2010 when she is named on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world. In 2017 she was inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak twice and this woman gives hope and a game plan to every parent who has a child on the autism spectrum. Check out this quick video here and if you have the time check out one of her Ted Talks.
- J.K. Rowling – This magical woman became the first billionaire author EVER (until her donations to charity knocked her off the billionaire list) and at one point she was essentially homeless and living on public assistance. After finally getting her book of the boy wizard sold to a publisher she had to change the pen name so it would be masculine. She is an inspiration to never, ever give up and she has handled her fame with grace.
- Serena Williams – She dominates on the court, being the best at what she does and lives her life without apology. It will be interesting to see if she can come back completely after having a baby at 36. I’m rooting for her. 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era, She is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won two Grand Slams seven times each (7 Wimbledon titles and 7 Australian Open titles). She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hard court. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds the all-time record for the most women’s singles matches won at the Grand Slams with 316 matches. Badass.
- Chip & Joanna Gaines – These two seem like two genuinely nice people. I love that they are Christian but remain out of the politically fray and I especially respect that they are stopping their hit show because of the effect on their family. They seem to making a bold choice for the right reasons and I wish them luck in escaping the fame drain.
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg – RBG is the bomb! If there’s one thing I love more than smart guys is smarter women. Born to Jewish immigrants in 1933 and attended Cornell, Columbia and Harvard, she became only the second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court. She’s 85 and recently showed off her workout skills. I hope this bright mind can stay on he court until she’s 100 🙂
- Thich Nhat Hanh – I didn’t realize until I looked at his wiki page today that we share the same birthday, only a few decades apart. I fell in love with his books on mindfulness when I was in my 20’s and have continued to read him into my 40’s. I am Christian and he is Buddhist, but there is so much common ground. He has helped me slow down and process every moment, if not always, at least more often,
- Angela Merkel – This strong , ground breaking woman is often the voice of reason in a world seemingly gone mad. I don’t know a whole lot about her personally or her politics, but I know she’s a leader in a man’s world and representation matters. I’ve heard her speak and I’ve seen the way that the other world leaders respect her. A win for women I’d like to see replicated here sooner rather than later.
- Dolly Parton – This little dynamo never seems to stop and she’s savvy and sweet at the same time. I read her book last year and learned that she started the charity, Imagination Library that has sent free books to 78 million kids. A woman after my bookish heart.
- Jimmy Carter – I love the statesman that he has become after his less than successful presidency. The 90 year old beat cancer! And he was building houses in hurricane ravaged areas while doing so. A Christian who is not afraid to oppose church positions and a peacemaker who is willing to work with any party to help where he can. He’s living every single moment with purpose and joy.
- LeBron James – I know that he’s arrogant. I hated the way he left Cleveland but loved that he came back to his hometown (Akron) to make amends. He has grown into one of the world’s biggest athletes and is married to his high school sweetheart, has three kids and his name is never attached to scandal. He has given and meant so much to this community, his foundation even providing thousands of college scholarships to area kids. He left Cleveland a punk (in my eyes) but came back a man who wants to take care of his hometown. He will probably leave us soon, but I don’t fault him for that. The work he does here will continue.
A strange and eclectic group to be sure and there are many more I could have listed (Jimmy Carter’s spot belonged to two other people before I settled on him).
So tell me, who are you inspired by?