Thursday, August 4, 2011

Great Teachers


Did you know that ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica? This ice also represents most of the fresh water in the world. Yet Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.

If you’re into biology, you may know this about the Mayfly -- after hatching, it takes up to three years to grow up, and then spends only one day as an adult. During that day it mates, lays eggs and expires. That last day must be absolutely spectacular.

Next time you dust your house, you may be interested to know that most of the dust particles you are removing are actually tiny bits of dead skin. Don’t even ask how much dead skin has made its way into your favorite pillow.

Did you know that the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows?

Or that that 80% of your brain is water? Well, mine anyway.

You’ve heard the expression "having a lark." Those who are interested in language might want to know that group of larks is called an exaltation. A group of owls is called a parliament. A group of crows is called a murder. A group of rhinos is called a crash, which seems to make some sense. But here’s the best of all: a group of Unicorns is called a blessing.

As interesting as all of these facts are, I doubt any of them is bound to significantly change your life. The stuff we need to know in order to live happier, healthier and more meaningful lives does not usually come from tidbits of knowledge. More often it comes from people; and especially, people who mean something to us. Let me explain.

For Ross Perot, the kind of knowledge that made the greatest difference in his life was actually gleaned from his mother. The American businessman and one-time presidential candidate made billions of dollars from the technology industry. But his mother, who raised him before the phrase "computer age" was ever coined, taught him how to live. She taught him one of the greatest lessons of all: she taught him about compassion for the less fortunate.

Perot remembers the days of America’s Great Depression. "Hoboes" regularly knocked on their door asking for a little food. It puzzled young Ross that his house seemed to be singled out on their street. One day he learned why. On the curb in front of their house someone had etched a white mark, indicating to fellow travelers that this house was an "easy mark." This fact disturbed the boy and he asked his mother if she wanted him to erase the signal. She told him to leave it there. It was a lesson in compassion he never forgot.

Some of the most essential life lessons and wisdom young Ross acquired did not come from a book or a classroom. They were lessons that came from those people closest to him. Many concerned themselves with the heart and spirit. They taught him about the world and the best way to live in it.

Our greatest teachers are usually those who did not volunteer for the job. They are parents and friends, spouses and children. Much great wisdom is learned best from the example of those closest to us.

And the remarkable fact is this: you are a great teacher. You teach powerful lessons every day of your life. You teach them simply by the way you live; by the way you respond to the world; and, by the little decisions you make. I wonder -- who’s watching and learning?

--Steve Goodier 

Image: flickr.com/Mike K

4 comments:

Bruce Toronto said...

Ross Perot is noted for having tried to buy his way into the White House even more crassly than other recent presidential candidates. Should we admire him for this?

Steve Goodier said...

Bruce, one may not like Perot's politics or the way he might use his money, for example, but the fact that his mother taught him to care for "hoboes" teaches all of us just how influencial our families can be in our lives. One of the lessons I am still learning is that the stories of people I may disagree with, or not respect for some reason, may still have something to teach me.

Frank P. Carpi said...

Steve,
You couldn't have responded more poignantly to Bruce. Too many people are way too quick to judge others actions, or motives; it would serve them better to examine their selves instead. We can learn valuable lessons from any source.
Frank Carpi

Anonymous said...

A fine lesson to take to heart is in the correspondence!