Great Expectations (My Journey to Inspire and Motivate)

by Kenny Eller on January 20, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Whatever your life’s work, do it well.  A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

If I had seen the aforementioned MLK, Jr. quote before, I couldn’t recall.   On the celebration of his birthday this past Monday, it was one of many notable things highlighted that the 39 year old man said in his rather short life.

A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

Sitting on my brown leather couch, feet kicked up on the ottoman, extremely comfy, excited and ready to watch some NBA basketball, I read the quote and went into a daze.   From a 30,000 foot level I asked, am I doing my life’s work better than the living, the dead and the unborn?  Am I even doing my life’s work??

I sat in a trance through the commercial break, bothered.

Still only half way coherent, I listened to Dr. King’s daughter and former NBA players discuss the impact that a 5’7” man had, not on his friends, not on his community, or country, but on the World.

…so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

The basketball game began, I let out a long sigh and began breathing again.

Let us be extremely real right now.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929, in a time where being African American was so much tougher than any obstacle ANY of us face today.   He could easily have chosen to stay under the radar, no person would have doubted him for that, but instead he chose to make an impact.

A Baptist minister, it was in 1963, at the age of just 34 years old that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in front of hundreds of thousands in Washington.   In 1964 he became the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Piece Prize.  He lived just four more years before his assassination.

In 39 years, global impact was made.

If that doesn’t inspire you, not much will.


I coached my brother at youth sports from the time he was seven or eight, until he entered high school.   From pop warner football, to local basketball leagues and even a short stint in AAU ball, I coached him the majority of the way.

I was a kid coaching a kid.  Just six years older than my brother, at my eldest I was a 19 year old coach.   Still six years is quite a difference in age when you’re young.

We were always and still are extremely close, which isn’t the most common thing amongst siblings, but something I’ve always cherished.   I would haul my brother around with me everywhere.   We would ride to games together, to the local courts together, we did everything together.  I took on more of parental role with his well being than that of a brother.   I wanted to make sure that he never struggled with the things I did on the basketball court, or belief in ones self.

Not being the most popular with ladies through my adolescence (that came later…haha), I used to think maybe God had let me be so close with my brother, because I would never be able have kids of my own.  I know, a tragic thought coming from the mind of a 14 or 15 year old.  That actually isn’t something I’ve ever shared with him or my family, but it was there.

In those years, despite that dark thought, I found something that brought me joy.



I loved to be able to shape and mold his thoughts and beliefs as well as other kids on the team.   With doubt and negativity running rampant, I loved to come in, crush it and then build them up so that they believed they could be great.

Taking a kid who began the season, eyes and head hanging low, a kid who doesn’t believe he is capable and showing him that his IS, well it doesn’t get much better than that.  Like a booster rocket on the shuttle, I could see their worlds ignite.

I realized then that I felt my gift was to do just that.  To inspire, to motivate, to help others believe!

While my outward appearance may have changed since my teen years, one thing from my youth still remains.   A belief that may be one of the most powerful things in the universe.



Before I began me vs. MJ in August, I hadn’t really done much inspiring or motivating in my adult life outside of my family, co-workers and friends.

I started a website called in 2009, with no direction, just desire, but gave up when I did a WordPress update and lost everything.

For years my wife has been encouraging me to go out and speak at local hotels and community clubs.   Yet, I’ve done nothing, feeling that I need more of a story and a voice to do so.   On top of that I don’t feel 100 percent comfortable speaking in front of others, despite my short stint in TV (never in front of the camera).

The truth is, I got into television for my love of sports alone.  No part of me wanted to be a talking head on the tube as a kid growing up, yet I figured I could deal with that, if it meant I would be close to the game of basketball.  I would do stand-ups (the portion of any sports or news segment when you see the guy or gal talking with the mic) at sporting events and go back and put stories together for my reel (TV resume), but it was tough for me.   I felt uneasy with everyone looking at me.   The camera sucked the energy right out of my being.   I enjoyed the story telling process, just not the attention that came along with the camera.  I was a young man, all of 20 years old.   My confidence that I have today, still in its growth stage.

I exited television at 23, and began writing sports for a local paper and working at a bank.   I initially didn’t get the bank job, because in my interview I told the interviewer that I was just doing this until my writing career took off.   I had dreams of writing for Sports Illustrated like Rick Reilly.  The honesty of youth! :-)   My friend’s mom, who worked at the bank, had them reconsider and I began opening accounts and learning about loans and finance.

Still my passion was to inspire and motivate.  Writing, something I had never done growing up, would be my vehicle.   I had taken one creative writing class in college that changed how I looked at the written word.   It gave me an outlet to attempt to inspire and motivate as I had done as a coach, through story telling.   Reading the Life of Reilly, being surrounded by on air talent at the station, and watching stories done by Jim Huber on the CNN feed, blew my mind.   There were so many ways to say something.  So many powerful ways.  Ways that would evoke emotion in just minutes.

I emailed Rick from SI for writing advice and he gave me something great.  He said, “never write a line you’ve already read.”

Mind blown, I wrote and wrote for my local paper…for a bit.

The banking gig began taking more time.  I wanted to make money and the local paper wasn’t paying all that much.  Twenty-four hours in a day just didn’t seem like enough, and soon the writing took a back seat.   A year and half later, there was no more writing.

What I was going to make a career of, I neglected, and let it go.

I still run into on occasion people in my home town that remember things I wrote from 10 years ago.   It’s been that long already.

They tell me how much they enjoyed what I wrote and ask if I still write.   Until recently the answer was no.


In my teens I truly feel I was shown my gift, what would have possibly been my life’s work.  Many people are still searching for theirs.

Yet I, like so many, chose to do little with it.

I jumped on the what I felt was the beeline to success and in the same breath put up a stone wall on the road less traveled.   The thing that brought me joy, the skill set I was born with, pushed to the side like it didn’t exist.

I have a blessed life.  So many things to be thankful for in my span of living.  This isn’t me being ungrateful for any of that.  This is just me thinking, if my life’s clock stopped ticking today, would I be happy with what I’ve done with my gifts.

When I read Dr. King’s quote, it SCREAMS at me DO YOUR VERY BEST with YOUR GIFTS!

I can honestly share with you that haven’t done that with mine, but I’m back to working on it.


me vs. MJ is not only a showing of my belief that anything is possible.   It has become a forum, an opportunity, for me to inspire and motivate others, encouraging them to believe that all things are possible.

While my end goal is to face my childhood hero, Michael Jordan, the lasting result may be the affect the realization of my goal has on others.

Whatever your life’s work, do it well.   A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

We are born with great expectations.  It is merely our job to do our very best and see them through.

me vs. MJ…the journey continues.  As always, thank you for following along.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Charissa Eller January 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

MLK Jr. Is truly one of my heroes. However, I didn’t know how young he was. It is a great post that makes you think about how you are spending the days you are given. You have already inspired me to do something I probably should have done a long time ago. Keep writing and keep sharing your talent:-)


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks! I’m glad you are singing again! The experience, the journey, well…you’ll see…you’ll have a blast!


Sunil January 22, 2011 at 7:51 pm

your best post.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 22, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Thanks Sunil! Means a lot coming from you!

Thanks for being supportive and always reading!


Donna Cumby January 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I just tried to post and it disappeared! If this shows up twice, sorry! This is one of my favorites too. You have a talent for writing in a way that makes people want to be better human beings. this is definitely the beginning of something big and it will be exciting to follow your journey and see where God takes you!


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

Wow, thank you soooo much! You have no idea how much reading your comment means to me and inspires me! Thank you for the continued support and positivity! 😀


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