“High achievers – by definition, individuals fueled by passion and purpose – distinguish themselves through exceptional contributions,” explains Betsy Storm, author of Bright Lights of the Second City — 50 Prominent Chicagoans on Living with Passion and Purpose.*
Bright Lights features prominent leaders in activism, the arts, business, philanthropy, politics, science, spirituality, sports, and more. Their life journeys, discussed in their own words, reflect high achiever experiences …wherever in the world they live.
► Be Bold. Do the hard thing or what you might be afraid of. High achievers trust their instincts and don’t listen to naysayers.
- “Tim King, Founder, Urban Prep Academies, a network of three all-male, tuition-free college prep schools, focusing on African-American boys. In 2013, for the third consecutive year, 100 percent of the 150 graduates were accepted to college. Self-described as a “hard-headed optimist,” he was part of an economically successful family. King graduated from law school but “chose the classroom over the courtroom.”
► Believe That It’s OK Not to Have a Plan.
- “Paul Sereno, Paleontologist and “Dinosaur Hunter. Sereno is a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence and professor of paleontology, evolution and anatomy at the University of Chicago. “Remember, your life plan is not set out before you, and that’s part of the fun of it. A good life is one that is unpredictable.”
► Don’t Just Overcome Your Fears. Use Them as a Springboard to Flourish and Advocate.
● “Marca Bristo, Co-founder, president and CEO of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago and president of the United States Council on Disabilities. When Bristo was 23 years old, a spinal cord accident left her paralyzed. As she began to lead an independent life, this trauma inspired her and prompted her activism. Access Living, created in 1980, was one of the first 10 centers in the country that offered independent living for people with disabilities. Bristo also helped establish the Americans with Disabilities Act in the U.S.”
► Believe in Something Bigger than Yourself or Your Belief System.
- “Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit building the global interfaith youth movement. IFYC addresses one of the most significant issues of our time: How will people of different religious backgrounds get along with each other? Patel’s two books are, first, his memoir, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, and second, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America. He served on President Obama’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. IFYC’s creed is: “Better Together.”
► Follow Your Dream But Be Pragmatic to Make It Happen.
● “Stephen Ross, Director, Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study of Conservation of Apes, Lincoln Park Zoo. When he was about seven years old, he saw a TV program featuring primatologist Jane Goodhall and was fascinated at the similarity between apes and humans. While Ross learned more about animal welfare, his natural abilities were in math and science. “It suddenly occurred to me that I could combine two separate interests into one career – as an animal welfare scientist.” His approach included taking a series of jobs not directly related to chimps but that led to “the best job in the world.”
► Believe in Yourself Even If You Have to Buck the System…or Your Parents.
● Alpana Singh, Master Sommelier, former director of Wine and Spirits for Lettuce Entertain You, former host of TV program, “Check, Please,” and currently a partner in The Boarding House, a fine dining venue in Chicago. Singh was born in Monterey, California, and her traditional Indian parents expected her to go to college. To pay for her education, she applied to a fine dining restaurant, and the owners expected her to know more about wine. One thing led to another, and Singh became, at the age of 26, the youngest woman to be accepted into the Court of Master Sommeliers. She told her parents no more college because it was boring.
*Note: Meet Betsy Storm and learn more about “Bright Lights of the Second City” at www.betsystorm.com.