It was an honor to be named recently as a finalist for a state wide entrepreneurial award, named for Tom Holce who is known as Oregon’s quintessential entrepreneur. He started and invested in 25 businesses in Oregon, which were the impetuses for thousands of jobs. Prior to his wife’s death, he was married for 44 years. Ray King, one of the CEO’s that Tom invested in said this about him: “He was always there for me if I needed help and advice,” King said. “When I talked to him, he was fully present. He was very generous with his time, and he would give you his full attention. He led a very balanced life and was on solid footing. That’s why he was therefore able to be there for other people.”

This is the 18th round of this competition and, looking back over the previous finalists and winners gives me chills. All of the companies named have succeeded in real terms, financially yes, but in ways that not only created solutions for millions and passionate work places full of enthusiasm and energy for thousands of others. I am so proud to find myself in the company of this many brilliant minds. But it isn’t just their minds that got them there… The real test for any entrepreneur is finding the courage it takes to keep coming back, to start over and over in the face of what seems like impossible odds.

Tomorrow morning I go to make my final presentation to a committee of successful entrepreneurs and educators. I feel a mix of excitement and anxiety before these moments, wanting to express the heart of my work fully and authentically. I want to embrace the honor and reflect back the qualities of being an entrepreneur with grace and humility. Actually the humility part is easier than the grace. I still find it amazing that other people can witness my strength of purpose, when I am still often caught up in leaping another obstacle as gracefully as possible.

Thinking about the comment that Ray made about Tom, I realize that all of the qualities that made Tom the real winner was his ability to help other people succeed. The ability to be present to others and generously share yourself and listen with full attention. This is what love feels like, at home and at the office.

These are the skills I am dedicated to, even and perhaps especially when I falter at them. Understanding and cultivating one’s own sense of balance is how leadership changes the world. I feel blessed and grateful beyond words to be added to this remarkable list of successful and ingenious visionaries who had the guts to take a good idea and make it work. I feel inspired to be associated with Tom Holce and his remarkable vision in the world. Gratitude is again the key element to what winning really means.