The ultimate leaders develop followers who will surpass them. Runners will become coaches and train other athletes who will break their records. Executives will motivate subordinates so successfully that they will become their superiors. And parents, in their devotion to a child, will pull him or her up beside them - and then encourage the child to go even higher.

When Harry and Ada Mae Day had their first child, they traveled 225 miles from their ranch to El Paso for the delivery, and Ada Mae brought her baby, Sandra, home to a difficult life. The four-room adobe house had no running water and no electricity. There was no school within driving distance.

But the Days did not allow themselves to be limited by their surroundings. Harry had been forced by his father's death to take over the ranch rather than enter Stanford University, but he never gave up hope that his daughter would someday study there. Sandra's mother first taught her at home, and also saw to it that the house was stocked with newspapers, magazines and books. One summer the Days took their children to all the state capitals west of the Mississippi.

Sandra did go to Stanford, to law school, and became the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. On the day of her swearing in, the family was there. "She looked around, saw us and locked her eyes right into ours," said her brother, Alan. "That's when the tears started falling."

What motivates a woman like Sandra Day O'Connor? Intelligence, of course, and inner drive. But much of the credit goes to a determined ranch mother sitting in her adobe house, reading to her children by the hour, and who, with her husband, scampered up the stairways of capitol domes, their children in tow.

From The Reader's Digest