Leaders Who Inspired Me: 30 Days of Abundance, Day 9

Do you know a person in your life that you admire for their unwavering commitment to something they believe in? Watch this video to hear the story of how I met a person that I admire.

Meet Dawn:

Dawn, if we weren’t limited by social distancing, I would personally like to give you this huge bouquet of flowers!

Dawn Mason
I admire you, thank you!

Here’s the Story of How I Met Dawn Mason, Who Continues to Inspire Me to this Day!

From Sheer Determination – Chapter 24

Being a chairperson for the governor’s Small Business Improvement Council was not an easy task. I traveled to Olympia once a month and conducted meetings with small business owners from all corners of the state of Washington. In addition, representatives from government agencies attended our meetings, so there was always a captive audience. Small business members eagerly participated to share their ideas on how government could improve their economic vitality.

One day, I was conducting a meeting in one of the large board rooms in the Capitol building. With everyone seated and Governor Mike Lowry at the head of the table, a door suddenly flung open. As we all looked, state representative Dawn Mason, an imposing, African-American woman, entered the room and quickly sat down at the table. She was given a proper introduction and the meeting resumed. 

A few minutes later, Dawn raised her hand and made an observation to Governor Lowry, “Governor, if this group is representative of small business owners throughout our state, then something is wrong.”

“What’s wrong, Representative Mason?” asked Governor Lowry.

“How come there are no minorities in this room except for Kay and me?”

The room fell eerily silent and all eyes were fixated on Representative Mason and me.

“To answer your question, I want to tell you that we have tried to find minority-owned businesses, but have been unsuccessful in spite of our efforts,” replied Governor Lowry.

Dawn Mason looked him squarely in the eyes and said, “How hard did you try?”

As the chair of the board, I knew I had to do something to ease the tension, so I said, “Representative Mason, I’d be happy to get together with you after the meeting so we can discuss how we might recruit more minority-owned businesses to this board.”

I will never forget Representative Dawn Mason. Something about her standing up to voice her beliefs and having the fortitude to bring them to the forefront really appealed to me. Truth be known, I admired her because she possessed the guts that I wished I had. 

As time went on, I got to know Dawn Mason better when I had the opportunity to drive with her to Eastern Washington to attend other meetings for the Council. While there, we learned so much about the challenges that faced small rural businesses – challenges that are very different from their large, urban counterparts. It was a daily struggle for them to keep their agricultural and retail economy healthy and to provide a living wage for their employees. On one of the last trips we took together, Dawn and I became involved in a serious discussion about lifelong learning. 

I asked her, “Who influenced your commitment to lifelong learning?”

“My Mother, who was so wise, she replied. “Let me share with you what my dear Mother told me. She told me that you can learn something from anything you come in contact with. If you sit alone on a river bank and stare at a rock long enough, you will learn something from it.” I was deeply touched by this sentiment and often referred to it when I taught my students and employees about the power of continuous learning throughout one’s life.

Who Has Influenced and Inspired You?

This is just one story of a person who has positively impacted my life. There are many more. As I reflect back on my life’s journey, I am grateful that these and others, through one set of circumstances or another, somehow crossed my path while on their own personal journeys. I am sure that all of you have a similar group of influencers that have made a significant contribution to how you view the world and live your life. I would love to hear your stories of people who have made a real difference in your life.

My daily goal is to find ways that I can make someone’s life better. It is my way of giving back and expressing my gratitude for those who have shared their wisdom with me and helped me along the way; it’s the least I can do.