While vacationing or visiting friends and family, I always make a point to try out a new gym. At home I usually walk for exercise but my internal GPS isn't strong enough to guarantee that, if I were to go for a walk in an unknown place, I would ever find my way back. Besides, a gym visit is the perfect antidote to balance out all the extra restaurant and junk food I consume on these trips.
In July, I found myself in an unairconditioned gym on Solomon Island on the Chesapeake River. Sweat poured out of my pores before I even set hand or foot on a piece of equipment. But I was bound and determined to meet a challenge presented to me the day before by a friend who mentioned that she had been riding her bike for 12 miles every day. I admit I am a competitive soul and although I wasn't sure I could top her record, I was defintely going to give it my best. So I got on a bike and started to pedal.
I didn't have ear buds to plug into the TV in front of the machines, so I read the news ticker on the bottom of the screen while I took a (hopefully) minimum 13-mile ride to nowhere on the stationery bikes. All of a sudden, amid updates about the Colorado movie theater shootings from a couple days earlier, was a scrolling announcement that Sally Ride, first American woman in space, had just died.
She was one of my heroes so I sat on that bike pedaling and pedaling and pedaling and waiting and waiting and waiting for more information. None came. After 22 miles, with legs ike jelly, I stopped pedaling and waiting. I was hoping that the scroll had been in error.
I grabbed my smart phone and went online, but found nothing about Sally Ride on the main news update page. Late that night I felt compelled to know for sure, so I got back on my phone. It took a bit of searching with my fat fingers that don't manage the phone touch screen very well, but I did find a tiny obit. I was shocked that the passing of this great woman who had broken the glass ceiling at NASA didn't get more attention.
I met Sally when she gave an engaging talk to kids (my own included) at a local private school. She spoke of her love of science and how there were many obstacles for girls, but she didn't let any of that nonsense get in her way; she merely followed her dreams. She was a great teacher who knew how to make education fun for all different types of learners. My favorite was when she talked about how she drank orange juice by squirting it out into the weightless air of the capsule and then sucking it up with a straw. The kids were enthralled with her. My daughter always had a proclivity for science and I am pretty sure that meeting Sally Ride played a role in keeping that interest alive to the point where she majored in science at college.
I was saddened that there was no detailed recap of her life accomplishments and her impact, the way there were repetitive retrospectives and tributes for a TV star who died the same day. Trust me; I am not getting on a soap box here, but I would like to shout out that Sally Ride really had a great ride in her short life and she was a huge ifluence for an entire generation of women and girls to follow their passsions and not give in to social pressures.
Is there a business lesson in this? Absolutely. Do what you love and don't let naysayers get in your way. Glass ceilings and records are being broken all the time; but the most important way to make a difference in the lives of others is to be a role model every day. Make every day a RIDE to somewhere!
Ellen Fisher, Founder and Publisher who wishes she could sleep by floating just like an astronaut