How Two Conversations Changed A Life
You are who you are today, in large part, because of words you heard, not words you said.
Mark entered college, like so many, unsure of what he wanted. He didn’t have focus or passion, so he signed up for General Studies.
Sharp people have focus and drive. Right? That’s why students enrolled in General Studies (G.S.) aren’t considered the sharpest tools in the shed.
By accident, he landed in an advanced Anatomy and Physiology class. At the end of the first week of classes, after realizing he was a G.S. student, his teacher pulled him aside and asked, “Are you sure you want to be in this class?”
The class was a prerequisite for the rigorous Physician Assistant (P.A.) program and was populated with focused, ambitious students, who were looking to earn seats in a highly competitive and exclusive program. The exchange annoyed him.
He determined to prove wrong the suggestion he couldn’t handle the class.
At the end of the semester, after the final exam, his teacher pulled him aside, a second time, and said, “Mark, you did really well. Have you ever considered the P.A. program?”
Two brief, off-handed conversations, changed his life.
He enrolled in the P.A. program, at the tender age of 19. One conversation challenged, the other ignited. Today, at 29, our son, Mark, serves his community as a respected member of a hospital’s staff.
The path to leadership emerges when you think of yourself as a person who is being heard.
3 ways to change a life:
- Challenge assumptions. Talk tough with compassion. “Are you sure you want….”
- Recognize performance. “You did really well.”
- Suggest a path forward. “Have you ever considered….”
Leaders say what they see. Your perspective matters.
What are life-changing conversations like?
Absolutely brilliant LF. I’m a beneficiary of what a Chemistry teacher said to me. And I listened!
Congratulations to both you and your Chemistry teacher.
“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear”! That’s excellent. When I interviewed for my first job as a night security guard in a hotel managed by the company where I now have a global leadership role I was told: “You’re too old, too educated and too opinionated”. The only other applicant withdrew his application so they were stuck with me and like your son, what I heard was “prove that you can do this”. I’m still trying to do that!
Say well done to your son, Dan! Have a great weekend, stay safe, and Always Care.
Thanks Paul. Love the clarity of “prove that you can do this.” It’s positive and powerful. Congratulations on your journey. Best wishes.
Great stuff Dan, Great story!!
There is only one constant conversation. I can, I can’t.
Learn to master that one and the other ones, with Gods other kids become more effective.
Yes JP, all other conversations besides the one you have with yourself are RUBBISH. Hehe
If you have apples no way to give oranges to others.
Great stuff Dan, obvious how grateful you are for what a great kid raised you.
Not a typo.
We teach, we learn.
Thanks Scott. He’s still raising me.
You are BOTH VERY LUCKY people to have each other…..it shows.
Dan, reminds me of my grandfather’s tale. Lost his dad weeks before he was born, lost one leg to polio at age 2 and was told in college to give up his science spot to make way for able bodied student & studied English. Went on to start his own college and publishing house after putting himself through college by tutoring other kids. Lived to 94 and I still meet middle-aged men across the British Commonwealth who grew up studying his guides to Shakespeare 🙂 What they hear indeed. Thanks for sharing your son’s journey. As the parent of a college sophomore I can relate.
Thanks kriskrishna. Love your story. Best wishes for you and your sophomore.
When I was in high school, I was a nearly straight A student, all honors, athlete, never got into trouble. I don’t know what possessed me but I submitted a rough draft of an essay to my junior year English teacher that was, let’s just say, less than appropriate. This teacher was one of the sweetsy kinds who was fun and never raised her voice. I received a private talking to after that essay. What struck me was when she said she was disappointed in me. After I submitted an entirely rewritten final draft on a completely different subject, my teacher told me she was submitting it to be published in a national journal of student work, and it was. She made me realize I wanted to do something in writing, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
Thanks sarah…. I’m so thankful for people like your teacher. Let’s aspire to be like your English teacher.
A life changing conversation and turning point of my leadership journey started with: “You knew this (bad culture/bad environment/bad results) already? What have you been doing about it?” It made me realize that I *could* do something about the situation and off I went!
Thanks Pam. Helping people see their own power is a great gift. Leaders make people feel powerful.
What a terrific parable. Thanks, Dan.
…recognizing and encouraging the potentials in others is one of leaderships greatest rewards (and greatest responsibilities) it recalls the scriptures “provoke one another to good works.”
Thanks Ken. The word “responsible” really hits me. I believe it’s true. It’s challenging. Cheers
Dan, may I use this story, with attribution, in my “Leader as Coach” workshops and as I coach managers and executives? It’s such a riveting example of what can happen in a coaching conversation, formal or informal.
Thanks for checking Alan. Please feel free to use it. Best wishes as you work to influence others.
Absolutely excellent! Loved this post!
I love this!!! Incredibly true! Life (and dreams) happen incrementally – as people pursue interests little by little. You don’t always need to know the end from the beginning.