Every once in a while you hear about a success story that inspires you, really motivates you and may possibly change you. The leader in this story is the reason I love such stories.
His name is Gabe Sonnier. Once you see and hear him speak you will see why this man is remarkable.
I had the opportunity to watch and hear this man’s story recently on CBS Sunday Morning. It is a tale of encouragement, perseverance, and caring all rolled up into one big story of success.
Feeling like no one believes in you can be a hopeless and lonely place. Gabe Sonnier was at such a place working as a janitor at Port Barre Elementary school in Louisiana.
In 1985 the principal at that time, Westley Jones, pulled him aside and suggested to him something that changed his life forever.
He said, “”I’d rather see you grading papers than picking them up.”
“I took it to heart,” Mr. Sonnier recalled. At the age of 39 he went to college. When not cleaning classes he was studying. He got his teaching degree, then a teaching job, then a Master’s in Science and Education.
Today Gabe Sonnier is the Principle of the same school he was cleaning years ago and wouldn’t mind being Superintendent some day.
He is inspiring and instilling in those he leads to not “let your situation that you’re in now define what you’re going to become later.” He is teaching others, “It’s not where you start, it’s how you finish.”
Think about it – one sentence of encouragement from a leader who cared about him in 1985 changed his life and the lives of others forever. It is perpetual leadership at its best.
What encouragement are you providing to those you lead? Are you preparing a new generation of leaders?
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