Willie Spears

Willie Spears

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Learn more at www.williespears.com.

Almost thirty years ago, I met a Michael Jordan look-alike named Terry Morning. We went to the same high school and had some of the same friends. I am an only child, but Terry has three brothers: Michael, Paul, and Ben. They were all basketball fans, but Terry was obsessed with Michael Jordan. He not only looked like him but played like him.

He mimicked his mannerisms and wardrobe, but not his height. Terry was 5’9, while Jordan was 6’6, but they were twins in my mind. When we were in high school, Jordon was in the middle of winning six championships in eight years, including the eighteen months he took off to play baseball. It was a great time to be a teenager.

Bird and Magic were at the end of their remarkable careers, the Olympics were in the USA, President Bill Clinton played the saxophone with Arsenio Hall’s dog pound, OJ Simpson was running, but not for touchdowns and hip hop music was at its peak with Pac and Big.

There was no social media, and the news was impartial. Our high school was terrific in every way. And as always…Terry was a preacher’s kid, quiet, unassuming, and cool.

He was more mature than most of us and stayed out of trouble. After graduation, he started working in landscaping. I often tell his story when I am speaking to teenagers because it is truly remarkable. After working for the landscaping company for years, he was fired. Not because he was late, lazy, or lousy.

He was fired for the opposite reasons. He was early, hardworking and incredible. His work ethic prompted his boss to encourage him to start his own business.

Terry had no clue how to get started or what to do. He just knew how to work hard. Although Terry is a man of great faith, he was not comfortable starting his own business.

However, his boss gave him no choice. He told Terry he would help him start his own business, but he could not work for him anymore. Meanwhile, I had just graduated college and started my first job as a teacher at our alma mater.

Terry went a different route and was in the early years of having his own landscaping business. Years later, I saw Terry at a gas station in a brand-new burnt orange F250 Ford pickup truck loaded down with landscaping equipment. The logo on his shirt matched the logo on the side of his truck.

Now you have to know Terry to understand the rest of this conversation. We spoke and were happy to see each other, but his humility was almost uncomfortable. He tells me he has three of those trucks that he uses as work trucks.

He was able to hire family members who could not get jobs in other places because of mistakes they made in the past. He mentioned several jobs that come with running your own business, including bookkeeping, insurance, payroll, and equipment. I was clueless, and I thought all they did was mow grass.

He mentions God so many times I felt like he was about to raise an offering. God this, and God that. He told me he had several contracts with top companies on the beach, contracts with the wealthy county next to us, and several large companies in town.

I am a year younger than Terry, but I beamed like a proud father. This was excellent news to me. It changed my way of thinking in so many areas. First of all, it proved going to college is not the only route to success.

Terry was making way more money than I was, and he was helping his family, his community, and his church. He was winning at home. Our encounter also reminded me of what my father and coaches have always told me: nothing beats hard work. Terry proves that working harder and smarter will reap great benefits.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I ran into Terry again. We were two of fifty or so community members volunteering to clean off an abandoned area in my old neighborhood. If you were at Joe Moody Park in Panama City, Florida, that day, you would have noticed me talking to JC Carlisle, George Hines, Darrell Kelly, Eddie Bell, and anyone else who would listen. You would have noticed Terry working, not talking. Working.

Terry Morning is the kind of person I strive to be. He is an amazing husband to Lynnise and an amazing father to his two children. How do I know this?

Lynnise posted it on Facebook after I posted a picture of Terry and me. He is a minister at his church, a very accomplished business owner, a volunteer in the community, and still in good enough shape to go one on one against any teenager in town.

I’m not saying he is perfect; he has an Air Jordan shoe habit that may be a little obsessive. Ask his wife and kids, they will tell you.

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Take care of your responsibilities.

2. Help in the community.

3. Help your brothers and sisters succeed.

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