This blog post was going to be about goal setting and the determination and perseverance it takes to attain your personal and professional goals. But then I woke up on Tuesday, May 12 to some rough personal news. A friend and colleague that I had worked with over the years in the Capitol passed away from complications of COVID-19.
I was heartbroken to hear of the passing of former State Senator Morris “Mo” Hood. He was a Detroit legend. A rock. He was passionate. Often times, he was legendary and passionate about things that I wasn’t. Our politics rarely matched. But Mo ALWAYS put people above politics.
When I was chief of staff for the Senate Majority Leader, he could deliver a fiery speech about something that he didn’t appreciate that we – in the majority – were pursuing. He would be animated and enthusiastic. “Passionate” is an understatement. He was angry. Angry about what we were doing to his constituents and his district. Mo wasn’t an angry guy, he would vehemently disagree, but he was never disagreeable.
After many of those impassioned speeches, he’d walk off the Senate floor, shake my hand, give me a “bro hug” and ask how I was feeling. He’d ask about my family. He’d ask if there was anything that he could do for me.
When I battled cancer in 2016 and 2017, he sent a care package to my home for my family. He would text me frequently to check on me. When I was able to return to work, he sought me out EVERY DAY to see how I was feeling. It didn’t matter what votes were scheduled or what issues plagued us that day. He cared. He cared about me. He took time out of his day to positively impact mine. I’ll never forget his thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
As fiery as he could be at times, his true penchant was for cooling things down, emphasizing the importance of family and relationships as the reason differences could be worked out.
At least once a week – usually on Thursdays before we would break for the weekend – he would use his time during floor statements to remind the entire Senate body in a soft, caring and gentle tone that “tomorrow is never assured.” Mo lost his wife unexpectedly in the summer of 2013. Just before Christmas that same year, he offered this to his colleagues on the Senate floor:
“Enjoy this. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your spouses. Tell them that you love them every day, because tomorrow may not be here. It may not.”
Indeed, sir. It may not. I’m reminded of that today as you’re no longer with us.
Mo taught me many things in the years I spent around him in the Capitol. The one that sticks with me the most is this: relationships matter. People matter. Individuals that you don’t often agree with have value. Not because of what those relationships and people can do to advance your cause but because – at the end of the day, when all the dust has cleared, and all the fiery speeches are delivered and the final votes have been recorded – we’re all running toward the same goal. We’re all pulling for the same things, even though we don’t always agree on how best to get there.
Be like Mo. Be soft spoken and gentle when others around you can’t or won’t be.
Be like Mo. Be passionate. Be fiery. Believe with every fiber of your being that your pursuit is a worthy one.
Be like Mo. Whatever your pursuit is, put people above it.
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