Changing a life
I grew up, the oldest of four brothers and one sister, on a dairy farm in central Maine (USA). There were more cows in our town than people. I was the first in my family to graduate from college.
This morning I woke up early enough to milk the cows, 4:30 a.m., thinking about a person who changed my life and how he did it.
Robert Treadwell accomplished many things in his life. He was a Youth Worker, Maine State Representative, and Pastor. But the thing I most remember about Bob was his ability to see. He saw value in me that I didn’t see in myself and he gave part of himself to bringing it out. He saw what could be in me.
Changing a life begins with seeing what could be and then investing in bringing it out.
Identify and nurture their joy.
Who has changed your life?
How can people investing in others?
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I carry around a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”
As a manager (and a parent), I’ve found that believing in the people around me and giving them the opportunity to succeed and progress really does produce beneficial and confidence-inspiring results.
It’s much better to believe in “how yes” vs “why not.”
“How yes” – seems to be proactive living vs. “why not” reactive.
I read your blog as I sit at my computer, about to write an email to a young woman I mentored the other day at the Junior Achievement Young Women’s Future Symposium for middle-of-the-class performing high school sophomores.
Her goal is to be a tour guide. She has no idea how she might accomplish this, but I offered to introduce her to someone I know in the travel industry.
How wonderful to be able to lend a helping hand to others as we have been helped. It’s trite, but what goes around absolutely does come around. Thanks for your insights.
Thank you for your story! All the best to you and your mentee.
The person who changed my life has no idea that she did so. At 15, I had a serious illness and lost the ability to walk. When it came time to get the place where I could attempt physical therapy, I was expecting that we’d start out with a warm up 3-mile run (just like on the track team). Instead, she placed me on the table (the first time I ever heard the word “supine”), and she said, “Lift your head.” I couldn’t do it. I was stunned. Turns out that walking wasn’t my only problem. More than three decades later, when thing aren’t going well, I remember the words of Greta Bertsch, RPT, “Lift your head.” Turns out I’m not having such a bad day after all.
Wow, I’m going to remember, “lift your head.” I’m thankful you stopped in and left your comment.
Your statement, “The person who changed my life has no idea that she did so.” Is a great reminder that all of us can have positive influence and not even know we do.
Best to you,
There is a person who changed my life, but it’s really premature to share that with the individual, although I have shared many thoughts on the experience. I was given an opportunity to act in a student-produced film after years of being an extra. Although I still love extra-ing (and filmmaking in general), it really changed my perspective to be the “student/learner” and to have a 19 year old be the director, and to see someone elicit emotions from me and the other actors in a way that came from a much wiser place than 19 years. I wrote about it in my blog this week, if anyone wants to stop in:
Good to see you again. So young people can change our lives. Only if we are humble… ouch!
I read disheveled…great story.
One of the people who has changed my life has also impacted lives of hundreds of college students over the course of his career. When asked to offer the single best piece of advice from nearly five decades in student affairs, he offered the following:
This advice may seem unusual at first reading but it has always been at the center of my life: Never underestimate the importance of an ordinary day.
I have come to understand very clearly that any one day, any one encounter, can make a difference in my life or any life. The days of celebration and drama I have seen are noteworthy, but they are not a part of my thinking. No, I point to the ordinary days, the ones that seem indistinguishable, one from the other. It is in the routine of life that our habits take shape, our reputation is established, our openness to challenge and change is developed, and our love or regard for those closest to us is deepened.
I think there is a spiritual dimension to the idea of the ordinary day, and I offer as an example an observation from a leader of the Hasidic Jews. He said, “everyday life is hallowed and each of us is responsible for the bit of existence that God has entrusted to our care.” This is why, in work, we cannot surrender to a bad day. What if that day was the very day you could have made a difference in the life of a student or colleague?
We have seen colleagues during our working years who have been severely damaged by illness or circumstances not of their making. All of them will find comfort in the simple exercise of daily friendships. They are not seeking to be entertained or consoled, but will be thankful for our understanding. Yet I have known many people in our work who do not seem to grasp the significance of small acts of kindness. Some of us apparently do not have time for inconvenient distractions. I believe that the warmth of our behavior can help sustain people through difficult days. We do not always understand what we have done. It is not our destiny to know, but we sense the rightness of it.
In much of our work, lives converge for a brief time and then move on. That is why each day is important. There can be no “going back” when we have treated a colleague with indifference, when we were too busy to care. If we are going to contribute to the world of right relationships, this is the day. Be ready, an ordinary day can change a life.
James J. Rhatigan
Wichita State University
Thank you for leaving your first comment on Leadership Freak. And thank you for sharing the wisdom of James Rhatigan. I bet many readers can look back to an “ordinary” day that included an unexpected event/meeting/conversation that changed them. You probably know from experience that any meeting can become a life-changer. You help us live expectantly.
I can’t recall one specific person who changed everything for me. I can remember many who had an influence. I work for State Environmental agency. I visit schools at least twice a year and occassionally bring students to the Department. Its not as altruistic as it sounds.
Here’s why I do it – even though my boss is not overly pleased. The future is two-fold, it is something I will meet and it will meet me. The children I influence will become scientists, business owners, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and voters. They are my future. They will become my children’s present, and my children’s children’s past – and they will influence the world. The greatest change you can achieve is change you will never know. I will not know my influence on the future that meets me, but that doesn’t mean I’ve had no role.
We are agents of one another.
Very cool idea. Thanks for adding it to this discussion. I like how you crafted -” They will become my children’s present, and my children’s children’s past”
You’ve given us more motivation to be people who change others.
All the best,
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