COLLEGE: LaFayette College
I always enjoyed being one of the top performers in gym class in elementary school. I was the largest boy in my class, and I worked hard to play well. I was very successful in the different sports that we played. However, my success came to an abrupt end when it came to rope climbing. The first time, I was extremely excited, thinking that I would be the first one to the top. I got in line, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to shimmy my way up to victory. When it was my turn, though I tried as hard as I could to lift myself, I made no progress. There I stood, still on the bottom knot.
Discouraged, I hopped off the rope and didn’t try again. When gym class was over, Mr. Foy, my gym teacher, wheeled himself over to me in his office chair and told me to stand up and look at him. He then spoke the words that have resonated within me ever since: “We big guys aren’t the ones that climb the ropes. We hold the ropes so others can climb.” The significance of those words did not strike me at first, but those seemingly simple remarks molded my life. I took his meaning literally, then, but I have since come to apply it metaphorically.
For example, being on the varsity golf team means I am unable to participate as an actor in my school’s drama production. Instead, I volunteer to work as a “techie.” While my friends are learning their lines and performing, I am building sets and running the lights during the show. I am content to do the behind-the-scenes work, holding that metaphorical rope so that the actors can climb their way to the top and succeed center stage. Although I don’t receive the same recognition as the actors, I feel just as accomplished, knowing that what I do is essential to their performance.
To me, success isn’t measured by how quickly you make it to the top. It is measured by those whom you’ve helped get there with you.