If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that East Tennesseans know a thing or two about hard work and hospitality. Regardless of where you look, you are sure to find those in leadership positions leading with a sense of pride for our community and a sense of service for the people they work with and for.
This fall, I sat down with nine notable individuals who give their all to every part of their lives, but also to causes that enrich our community. An architect, a cattle rancher, a hospitality visionary, a tattoo and piercing trendsetter, a humble shepherd of 13 car dealerships, an Olympic swimmer, a warrior against hunger, an urban wilderness wonderwoman, and a champion of the preservation of our national park. Each of these individuals have stories that are uniquely their own, and yet their common denominator is that their life lessons have created within them values that help guide their present and future to the benefit of all around them.
The stories they share are ones of taking chances, allowing yourself to fail and then flourish, finding and owning your personal style of leading, figuring out how best to support your team in their roles and their growth, and so much more. And all of these community leaders feel adamant that those learning moments helped to shape who they are today.
In the words of April Thomas: “The universe always has our back. And everything that we think doesn’t work out was better for us in the end, even if we don’t recognize it at the time.”