No April fool

Coral-Gables-Chamber-of-CommerceEvery year, our Chamber honors outstanding members of our organization for a variety of accomplishments and achievements that deserve a round of accolades. We believe it is part of our core mission to help our members build their businesses by recognizing those who do it the very best. It is something we value and celebrate throughout the year via these awards programs.

This emphasis on celebration fits well here in Miami. Our community loves to cheer for a winner — just look at our devoted passion for LeBron James and the Miami Heat and the utter disdain for “insert team name here,” heckled and ignored for being perennial losers (which typically means missing the playoffs every now and again in our town).

Even soccer star turned international male model and uber dreamboat David Beckham has created quite a stir with just the mere idea of creating a winner, based squarely on a simple whiff of potential success. Ah, that is just so Miami.

With so much energy surrounding our professional sports landscape right now (playoffs!?!), it is any wonder that we can even concentrate at work and get things done. This time of year is also especially exciting — hopeful for our Miami Marlins and Dolphins for the not-so-far-off future and living in the championship moment with our Miami Heat.

But, even the greater fool has his or her own moment of distress. While a win is a win is a win, there are those who base success simply on trophies, plaques and newspaper ink. This is not only shortsighted; it is downright ridiculous. Or as I like to say, redonkulous!

Victory is not measured only at the finish line. It is not a finish photo of you breaking the tape in record time and turning back over your shoulder to see who is left in your dust. It is based on a series of wins, a body of work, a legacy of achievement, a pattern of success. It is the ultimate compliment when someone knows you for a hall of fame worthy life versus a singular accolade.

Our Chamber uses this measuring stick in each of our awards programs, including the George E. Merrick Award of Excellence. For the past six years, we have honored outstanding citizens of Coral Gables for their body of work, their legacy of service, the enduring commitment to the City Beautiful. This year, we will pay homage to those that are also a work in progress — George Merrick in the making, if you will. This program is designed to encourage and extol the virtues of those who recognize from an early age that one’s career is more than punching the clock, crafting the cog and making the donuts. It is actually about making a difference.

While our Rising Stars will continue to shine bright, our Merrick in the Making honorees will emphasize what a young George Merrick meant to Coral Gables. He was an entrepreneur, a risk taker, an innovator. He was a man ahead of his time who was unabashed in his desire to promote Coral Gables to any and all who would listen. His ideals live on today in many of legacy organizations he created — our city, our chamber, our university, our Biltmore Hotel, our garden club, our women’s club and more.

Good old George was no April fool. He was unafraid of having big plans and even bigger dreams.

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