The people I find inspiring are those who embody the traits that I value – kindness, generosity, compassion and positivity. And I feel incredibly grateful to have very inspirational people around me – both in real life, and on the world wide web.
I recently had the idea to do a weekly blog post to recognise these wonderful people.
And to say thank you for inspiring me and countless others, and making the world a much better place.
The first person I wanted to feature was the person who has made the biggest impact on my life thus far – Andy Smallman.
It was this (relatively) simple video that inspired a chain reaction of events in my life.
I have long tried to be a good person, and to make a difference in other people’s lives. However it was watching this video that inspired me so much, and moved me to action.
I was blown away – a school dedicated to teaching kindness.
Thanks to Andy I was inspired to start my own random acts of kindness, and also this blog.
Andy was kind enough to let me interview him for the piece. The questions, and his answers are below.
Andy Smallman is an education innovator and director of the Puget Sound Community School. His unique approach to learning has kindness as it’s foundation and is inspiring students and their communities alike.
In one sentence, describe yourself…
What is your life motto?
Be true to yourself.
… being warm, both on the inside, with myself, and on the outside, with everyone and everything else.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about those moments when a person taps another person on the shoulder, metaphorically or actually, and the second person turns to see the sunrise, metaphorically or actually.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Just today I went for a run and saw an early spring flower blooming. I thought, “Who put that there? What a kind thing to have done for me.”
Who inspires you?
Children. Nature. Honesty. Oh, the question said who, not what. Sorry.
What are your goals?
To grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. That’s it. Everything else flows from those two things.
What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
Well there’s always a “right” answer to this question, like the decision to marry Melinda, my wife, right? And that really was a good decision, a great one, in fact. But I never would have even had the opportunity to make that decision if I hadn’t made countless decisions that led to it. So the best decisions I ever make are the good ones I make in the present, right now, to be positive, the decision to be present. These “now” decisions are what lead to great opportunities in the future.
What are you most grateful for?
How wonderful is it that right now I can feel the sun on my skin?!
What was the most defining moment in your life?
There have been several, each of which directly influenced EVERYTHING that followed. But I’m going to say that founding the Puget Sound Community School in 1994 is the most defining. To do so, Melinda and I quit our jobs with their known salaries to start a venture conventional wisdom said had no chance of working. That we did it soon after having our first child and soon after buying a house, as well as having no savings to speak of, adds to its “definition.”
What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?
See my answer to the “goals” question above and let the “achievements” take care of themselves.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
Take care of yourself and by that I really mean it: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Your REAL self. Find something that you love doing and commit to doing it regularly. Oh, and while you’re at it, make it simple. Because it really is simple.
For more information on Andy: