How do you measure greatness? What does it look like? If you’re a sports fan or a New York City Marathon runner, there’s an image of Shalane Flanagan that’s synonymous with great. It was splashed across the front page of the New York Times when she made history as the first American woman to win this race in more than 40 years.
But if you’re Maya Angelou, greatness is completely different. It’s the tenacious courage in her poetry that challenges us to be hopeful. With Angelou, we love in the face of great adversity and our flawed human condition. But in most cases, we associate greatness with awards, bestselling books, and standout actions. Only when we look beyond the marvelous feats and profound words, do we see greatness in a new light.
Greatness in Unsung Spaces
Greatness thrives in many invisible places of the world. Whether it’s the slums of Calcutta, where Mother Teresa lived a life of quiet service to the destitute or the uncelebrated actions we do for others in a day, greatness can change everything.
This photo by Chris Barbalis shares all the colors of great when I circle back to Angelou’s famous words:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If we take this message to heart, greatness lives inside us. It’s found in the quiet of the night, when a parent tucks her child into bed after reading a bedtime story. Or it hides behind the thoughtful son who calls his father each day to let him know he cares. So when I discovered a woman who embodied this greatness in the passion she brings to every facet of her life, I knew WomanScape needed to share her story.
Meet Lauri Holomis. She is a great friend. And, she also happens to be a modern-day wonder woman. Her list of accomplishments so early in life makes my head spin. She’s a devoted mother, loving spouse, published bestselling writer, and entrepreneur. If I wasn’t so inspired by the person she is and the positive footprint she’s making for team-humanity, I might be jealous. But the truth is Lauri is as great as the bestselling, award-nominated book she’s co-authored with Glen Gretzky.
Lauri Holomis: What It Means To Be Great
Okay, so Lauri Holomis meets the usual standard for greatness having written a bestselling children’s book. But her passion and reason for writing the book with partner Glen Gretzky come from a higher place: a deep desire to share the spirit of Walter Gretzky.
Glen was an ideal writing partner for Lauri, as the son of Walter and brother of legendary hockey great, Wayne Gretzky. Writing Great immortalized Walter’s greatness as one of Canada’s national treasures.
The story honors Walter’s lifelong commitment to the sport and the wisdom he’s imparted to thousands of aspiring hockey players and their families. For decades, Walter has translated the greatest values of the game – friendship and team building – as an opportunity for camaraderie and positive character building.
In our competitive world and obsession with success, Walter’s philosophy and values reframe the meaning of true happiness and success in life. And who better than Walter to understand the pressure that kids and hockey parents feel in this highly competitive sport? He’s proudly pictured in the above photo and standing on the far left, next to Lauri Holomis, illustrator Kevin Sylvester, and Glen Gretzky.
There are so many ways this message for kids is a timely and entertaining read. Taylor is the main character in the story whose joy at making the team quickly turns to frustration about not scoring goals.
I love the universality of Taylor’s name as both a girl’s and a boy’s name but the heart of the story speaks to a message we all need. Coach Wally helps Taylor to see that you don’t have to score goals to be great. Life is a team game and there are many ways we can all be great in life.
Taylor realizes this truth under the shadow of “The Great One”, an obvious connection to the legendary hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky. Wayne, who dominated the National Hockey League from 1979-1999, was called “The Great One” and is arguably the greatest ever to play the game.
Lauri’s Business Success: The Gretzky Foundation & BIOSTEEL
Since the book’s release last winter, Great has become a bestseller in Canada and is also a nominee for the Ontario Library Association’s Spruce Award. The fan base for Great even includes country star legend Dolly Parton, who wrote to Holomis about adding it to the Imagination Library collection; a global book gifting program providing free books to children.
But Lauri’s desire to share Walter’s story and help inspire kids and parents to see the deeper meaning of great goes beyond her writing hat. She has worked for the Wayne Gretzky Foundation for years, helping the nonprofit raise funds for children and families across Canada and the United States. Part of the book proceeds are also directed to this fund.
As well, Lauri is one of a group of business entrepreneurs helping to leverage her talents in the professional sports industry. When Lauri explains the benefits of Biosteel in the nutritional sports drink marketplace, I understand how she is also championing a new fan base for women and mothers. The all natural, sugar-free and caffeine-free products touted in the #DrinkthePink campaign provide a vitamin/mineral/amino acid blend of components that promote wellness and healthy nutrition. https://www.biosteel.com/en-ca
When you consider Lauri’s busy professional life, she’s the first to tell you her passionate role as mother, spouse, and friend stands at the top of the greatness pyramid. Lauri says family is everything and greatness is being inspired to live each day with gratitude and love. When you meet Lauri, this truth resonates in her inviting smile and generous, heartfelt laugh.
I realize Lauri helps to coin this new standard of greatness though Coach Wally’s words at the end of the Great storybook. It’s a simple explanation meant for children, but it challenges lessons from the most interesting Ted Talks and fascinating YouTube videos.
Taylor passes the puck and the team scores a winning goal in overtime. Coach Wally congratulates Taylor saying, “You made sure he could be great, and that we could be great.” Taylor responds, telling Coach Wally “It feels so amazing. It feels great.” Remembering Angelou’s words, “People will never forget how you make them feel,” I feel awfully great when I’m around people like Lauri Holomis.