Being Part of Something Special: Lessons for a Lifetime

By Danny O’Brien, Head of School

[This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 HMI Newsletter]

This past summer, Semester 22 alumnus Jack Lee married his now wife, Kelsey, on HMI’s campus. It was a beautiful weekend and we were so happy to host the celebration. I was also honored to speak during the ceremony. Jack and Kelsey asked me to talk about the values HMI lives that also apply to a successful union. With their permission, I want to share excerpts of my reflections with you all. Congratulations, Jack and Kelsey! 

“Today we celebrate marriage. It’s right we do this.  A union is beautiful and inspiring. It brings spring even here, to our endless winter in Leadville. Love is what has gotten Jack and Kelsey to this point, but what will keep them going is more than that.

I hope the lessons that Jack learned as a student at HMI ten years ago will seem as relevant moving forward as they did then. I want to share with you some of those lessons about communication, expedition behavior, and accepting one another for who you are.

First, do not hide anything from one another. A cornerstone of HMI is that communication is a gift—the person giving feedback feels better for getting it off her chest and the person hearing it becomes better for the awareness of how he impacts others. There is no room at HMI for one of us to know something or feel something about others in our community without sharing it with them. I hope you offer the same gift to one another.

My second tip is to practice expedition behavior (EB) every day. What is EB? The idea behind EB is that there is the group, and then there are individuals within the group. Each individual will share in a greater reward if they ask what the group needs instead of what he or she wants. On their best days, our students put the interests of the group above themselves. But, you, Jack and Kelsey, are about to be married—a far greater commitment than the semester our students promise to each other at HMI. I urge you every day to practice EB, to put the magic of your marriage above your own wants.

The last piece of advice I have for you stems from what I am most proud of at HMI. Our students come to love themselves for who they are, just the way they are. More importantly, they appreciate the people around them in the same way. I want to make sure you are ready to offer this gift to one another. Of course, I hope both of you will be willing to grow together and compromise on some habits and desires for the other. But ultimately, today, marry the person standing with you instead of an image of someone you wish them to be.

Marriages are complicated things, as complicated as the people in them. Today, the love you feel for one another makes it all seem simple, obvious. Tomorrow, too, I hope!

But one day, the skies will be greyer and the landscape flatter. It will be winter. And then I hope you find a new kind of love, one born from communication, expedition behavior, and accepting one another “as is.”

And may that love, Jack and Kelsey, be strong, real, grateful, and ever lasting.”

Interested in hosting your wedding or another event at HMI? Learn more about Facilities Rentals.

Wedding photos by: Timber + Stone Photo | @timberandstonephoto 


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