What Do These People Have in Common?

Grace is a social worker who bravely intervened to defuse a dangerous situation between a homeless man and the police.

Sean is in prison for stealing guns and trading them for heroin and is a suspect in the killing of Whitey Bulger.

Catharine is a legal scholar who pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment. 

Rachel is the first transgender woman world champion, winning the gold in Masters Track Cycling.

Gary is hacker who was accused of perpetrating the “biggest military computer hack of all time.”

Rebecca is an author, researcher, and Internet freedom advocate.

Kiley is an Olympic aerial skier who finished 10th in the last Olympic games.

Nathan is a former #1 draft pick for the Colorado Avalanche.

Jerrick is a running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

Mark is a political advisor who has honorably served President George Bush and Senator John McCain.

Kate is a comedian and actress.

Bob is writing this post. 
This is a notable group. They come from three different countries and nine different states. They range in age from 22 to 72. Their diversity spans across race, gender, political beliefs and, of course, life outcomes.
What unifies them is their last name — McKinnon (or in some cases the original Scottish spelling MacKinnon).
For reasons, too long to go into, I spent most of my life never knowing anyone personally who shared my last name. 

So over the course of my life, I’ve “collected” this assorted group of “relatives.”  

In some strange way, I have found solace in discovering that there are people out there whose name and ancestry I presumably share.

It is a small but poignant reminder that regardless of our differences, we are connected.

If you’ve never done it, spend five minutes and start googling your last name. Cherish the diversity in the people and stories you find. Seek out differences that make you uncomfortable and others that make you proud.
The roots of our family tree run long are a buried, tangled and beautiful mess.


Thanks to everyone who watched or shared my TEDx talk, How Did You End Up Here.  It is very much appreciated. 

Leave a Reply

Sign up here to receive Moving Up Mondays

Receive our weekly email, delivering inspiration and perspective every Monday morning.