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Weekly Wisdom 6-8-2016

Post Date: 
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Making a Difference

I grew up in the 1960s. I remember, as a youngster, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations, freedom marches in the south, Vietnam, landing on the moon…and Muhammad Ali. Ali was something! He was loud, brash, a person that went along with “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eye can’t see.” I was aware he converted to Muslim, changed his name, refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War, and ultimately won his case before the Supreme Court…just bigger than life all around.

I read an article by Sports Columnist Matt Calkins yesterday in The Seattle Times (available at

What recent sports figure has blended fame, dominance, charisma and courage like “The Greatest”? Who has managed to rail against the establishment without sacrificing an inch of his global reach? Who has had it all and been willing to lose it all for the sake of principle?

   And within a couple of minutes, it became clear the answer was “nobody.”

He concludes the article with:

One of my favorite Ali stories involves a cancer-stricken boy he visited just before the Foreman fight. Hearing the kid was on death’s door, Ali repeated the phrase “I’m gonna beat George Foreman, and you’re going to beat cancer.” Replied the boy: “No, I’m going to meet God, and I’m going to tell him I know you.”

It’s hard to think of another athlete who would elicit that type of reaction today…“The Greatest” will be an accurate title for years to come.

The HR Leadership Team also listened to a TED Talk interview with Norman Lear, the creator of such iconic TV shows as The Jeffersons, All In the Family, Sanford and Sons, etc.  At 93 years old, Lear believes it’s the little things that everyone does every day for other people that really changes the world.  There was "An Evening with Norman Lear" within the last year where Lear and a group of hip-hop impresarios and performers were on stage together.  Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records was among seven on the stage. “And when he talked about (Lear’s) shows, he…was talking about a simple thing that made a big…impact on him. He saw George Jefferson write a check on The Jeffersons, and he never knew that a black man could write a check. It changed his life.”

This single statement has challenged me to find a little something to do every day for someone else…that could change one life, maybe even mine.


I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.     Staci Sleigh-Layman


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