I don't ever do much on LinkedIn. I'm not a wheeler or dealer. A connections user. Or a favor asker-forer. I live my life. I love my husband and five sons to the moon and back. I would do virtually anything for a stranger. And I believe profoundly in American exceptionalism.
We haven't seen a lot of that exceptionalism lately. Certainly not in the news. I guess that's why my LinkedIn profile has been blowing up. People like you from all around the world are asking to connect. Having a profile name like "Positively Wendy Bell" is alluring in these times of such ugliness and hate.
I submit to you that America is NOT what you see on the news. It's not what you read about in the paper. And it's not what we watched unfold in the Senate a few weeks ago. I watched with tears streaming down my face. THAT isn't who we are. America is amazing. Our people are winners. We're part of something the rest of the world wishes it could tap into. And it's time we all start remembering that.
There's a reason the Nike video of a University of Oregon runner being surprised at the end of a race with the first-ever pro contract for an athlete with cerebral palsy has already gotten 3.65 million views on Twitter. Three-Point-Six-Five-MILLION. We're hungry for a reason to smile. We're desperate to feel that feeling deep down in our bellies that makes us want to grab the nearest person and give them a hug. We want to cry... and to cry the kind of tears that choke all reason out of us and make us feel spent and splotchy when we're done. We need to feel united again. We're not black or white or red or blue. We're AMERICANS.
So many remarkable stories exist out there. They're all around us. I cover them here and love sharing them with you. But I LIVE them, too. Stories of little people doing big things. Of ordinary men and women accomplishing the extraordinary. As professionals, we want these people on our teams. They make us better. They lift us higher. They encourage us to dream bigger and to resist that nagging voice inside us telling us to quit.
When my paraplegic friend, Attila Domos, fell 38 miles short of breaking the 24 Hour Handcycling World Record last weekend, I cried. Not because I was disappointed that he'd come so far to not seal the deal... but because he represented everything that makes America great. Can you imagine pedaling a recumbent bike for 365 miles with your arms? Can you fathom riding 22.5 hours before succumbing to exhaustion? Attila called me the next morning from the hospital. "I know what I did wrong, Wendy," he told me. "And next year, I'm gonna CRUSH that record." (Which, by the way, is 403.8 miles. The equivalent of riding a bike from Pittsburgh to New York City and going 35 miles past it.) And, oh yeah, Attila is 50. A man who refuses to quit. THAT is American exceptionalism.
Perhaps it's time to turn off the news. Enough rhetoric. Enough hate. Let's get back to the basics. We Are America. Indivisible. United. A team. Let's lift each other up. Let's tap into the core of who we are. What our forefathers were. What they dreamed of! America isn't politics. It's people. And ours are the greatest people on the planet.