When Jim Tressel coached the Ohio State Buckeyes, he and his football team would recite this verse of a poem before the start of each game:
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
He used this to inspire his players to do their part, no matter how small it was.
That is the same message he delivered to his audience of 180 at the 3Chamber luncheon at Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern Wednesday.
Tressel, now the vice president of strategic engagement at the University of Akron, said the biggest changes need to start in the smallest places.
"The difference is going to be made locally," he said. "The greatest difference is made in the smallest locale: One's home."
He praised the cities of Twinsburg, Solon and Aurora for "collaborating" in business, bringing their expertise together at combined chamber of commerce functions, even though some are competitors.
"The better you get, the better your competition gets," Tressel said.
By pushing each other locally, he said, it can begin to effect the desired changed across the country.
"Your role is even bigger than you think. The future of our country is going to be determined by how well we do locally," Tressel said.
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Tressel commended businesses for helping grow a vital region in the state and national economy.
"We appreciate that this is where you want to make a difference with your company," he said.
If each player does their part, like in football, he said, the whole group will be fine.
"What's going on locally is most important," Tressel said. "What's going on with you? How are you trying to improve?"