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Susan Kerr Headshot

Business. Kindness. Life.

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Both my parents were entrepreneurs and artists.

I'm not sure they would refer to themselves this way, but I do.

What this means to me is that they were also both leaders -- and perfectly imperfect, divinely appointed, remarkable human beings. Still are.

As a result, I learned a tremendous amount from both of them that I apply to my daily focus on service, business, art, my practice of living and working every day -- and for me that also means my daily calling called coaching.

I often say when working with or hiring people that I want them to have two things: the "goodness gene" and the "get it gene."

The "goodness gene" means simply they care and they try. On my better days, that's more than enough. More and more, I find myself melting over the simple phrase: "She's trying. He's trying."

I remember calling the young man who works for me last week. It was at the end of a very long, productive, abundant week. I needed him to do something on a Friday night at 6:00 p.m. I was driving and barking requests and had very little in my charm gas tank.

Out of his mouth came: "Happy to help!" My long Friday commute and challenging week including international travel and exhaustion was punctuated with a lovely exclamation point of joy: the "goodness and get it gene" in full color.

There's both a tenderness and a delicate vulnerability to trying. It's enough, I find.

My dad's life lessons came from his parents. His mid-western born dad, Doc Kerr, a man who died decades before my birth, born in the 1800s, delivered babies for chickens during the depression, and represented America as a medic in France during World War I.

One afternoon I asked my dad what his father wished for him? What legacy he wanted him to pass on? For the next few moments in front of the crackling fire in the home of my youth, my dad shared what his dad had imparted to him.

"Well, Susie, kindness was the most important thing my dad wanted me to carry out into the world," my dad said, slowly, meaningfully.

And it was with this fireside chat reaching back into our families legacy of over 100 years ago that Advancing Inspiration first learned our business practices could be savvy, strategic, bold, efficient, impactful...

...and on our best days, underlying all of it, sharing and promoting acts of kindness.

My dad's mom, the one grandparent I knew fully, taught us the lesson we wish to learn from all grandmothers, it seems.

Unconditional love.

The beauty, comfort, embrace, and love of home, space and surroundings. The encouragement of mind, heart, and spirit. Laughing, delight, and joy expansive.

We believe that we can bring these pieces to our daily work lives, too. In our best workspaces, we can feel we are coming home to all things kind, expansive, alive.

Why not?

We get this one precious life.

My mom's dad lived from 1900 to 2000 and lived by the old adage, "Work hard, play hard."

I'll never forget the moment I shared with him in his Florida breezeway in 1998.

We stood up together to get a closer look at the bird-squirrel action when he turned to me and said earnestly and quietly, "You know, I did the best I could."

A man who farmed fields for decades, kept his surviving four young children together after losing his wife and daughter to early deaths, he taught me love, perseverance, grit, grace.

His daughter, my mom, attended a one room school house, went to school by horse and buggy, and lacked both indoor plumbing and heat depending on the house and chapter of her young life.

From those humble beginnings she reached career success during my teens. She would often say: "The world is your oyster."

I wasn't really sure what she meant. We grew up in the shadows of Disneyland in Orange County, California, so people were often saying things that sounded like fairy dust was involved. Now that I'm older and live a solution- and miracle-filled life, I get it. I believe her now, because I'm living her words.

We get to choose our stories and craft them in ways of not only glass half full, but what are we going to do with all that liquid? All that life? All those oceans? We can't always change the beginning of our story, but we can always change the end.

Lately, I've heard my coaching clients talk about legacy, sustainability, structure. They wonder if they are putting enough in place, planting enough seeds so that their work will last beyond them.

I hear them being comfortable while they are in charge, but not quite so sure about what's coming after they step down.

So what can we do today?

We might:
Live earnestly.
Establish traditions built on character, not comfort.
Articulate direction.
Create institutional values that people love and live. Hire and promote for the same.
Know and celebrate our values, our stories.
Create new ones.

As the days unfold and the seasons change, and as we become the shoulders for our next generation of leaders, we get to remember and reflect. We get to create a plan, leave room for miracles, and witness dreams coming true under the shadows and sunshine of kindness.

Yes, the world is, indeed, your oyster.

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