How Two Conversations Changed A Life

You are who you are today, in large part, because of words you heard, not words you said.

red auerbach quote


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.

Pulled aside:

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.

New direction:

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:

  1. Challenge assumptions. Talk tough with compassion. “Are you sure you want….”
  2. Recognize performance. “You did really well.”
  3. Suggest a path forward. “Have you ever considered….”

Leaders say what they see. Your perspective matters.

What are life-changing conversations like?