“Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone’s life.” – James Mann

Last week’s blog (“Light Their Fire” #235) garnered more response than almost any other.   Many of my readers told me they forwarded it to other individuals and groups. It contained a powerful message about the difference that teachers – and really ALL of us – can make in the life of someone else, just by seeing through their current lackluster or upsetting behavior and seeing the greatness that lies within each of us – the special gift, as one teacher put it, that we each open at different times in our lives.

I’m sure you, too, can name at least one person who was instrumental in helping you to discover your special passion and talent through their belief in you. Often, that person was a teacher.  This is the perfect time of year to thank a teacher for their service.  Older children spend more waking hours at school than they do with their parents, and their teachers have a tremendous influence on them.

In addition to teaching their subjects, teachers are called upon to help their students learn to reason, form intelligent opinions, respect others’ opinions that differ from theirs, and learn that their words and actions have an impact on others — for good and for bad. And teachers are expected to do it all with infinite patience, grace and energy!  They absolutely deserve all the appreciation, support and acknowledgment we can shower upon them.

It’s sometimes quite challenging to see the greatness in one who is misbehaving, acting out, pouting, crying, blaming others, or refusing to do what they know they should do.  These behaviors aren’t limited to the young, of course. At times, we ALL say and do things we wish we hadn’t.

This week, I witnessed an adult behaving very badly. As I entered the grocery store, a disheveled-looking woman riding an adult scooter was exiting the checkout line empty-handed. I could tell by her unkempt appearance that she was probably living in less than ideal conditions. The woman was extremely angry, shouting at the clerk that she was going to call the head of the grocery chain and report him.  There were children present and she yelled a number of profanities you would not have wanted your children to hear, believe me.

As I passed by her, I was tempted to frown at her and judge her for being rude to someone who was undoubtedly just doing their job, plus being so crude and uncaring about the impact she was having on everyone around her.  But with the last blog clear in my mind, I reminded myself that I needed to focus on seeing her “greatness” instead of her behavior. I honestly couldn’t see it at that moment, but I did at least do my best not to judge her. Instead, I sent up a silent prayer on her behalf, asking God to richly bless her with love, health and prosperity.

As I left the store moments later, I passed a clerk talking to a woman who was wearing some type of name badge.  She was calmly explaining to the clerk that the angry woman was “self-medicating” because she couldn’t afford her meds. Suddenly, I saw the truth and felt such compassion for her and relief that I didn’t let myself judge her.  The signs were all there that she had some sort of mental or emotional issue and was doing the best she could with what she had in her life at the moment.  Whatever frustrated her,  she lacked the tools to cope with and so acted out.  It was a dramatic reminder that we can’t know what is REALLY going on in someone else’s life and that we must not judge them if we want to help them.

Later that day, my spirits were lifted during a coaching session with a client who is an elementary school teacher.  She said the last blog made a big impression on her about teachers having a life-changing influence on their students by recognizing and nurturing their gifts. That awareness caused her to handle a tough classroom situation differently than she otherwise might have.

In a class designed for students learning English as a second language, one boy had been acting out all year, refusing to do his assignments and disrupting the class so the other students had trouble concentrating.  On this day, when he complained that he didn’t understand the assignment, she decided to try a new approach.

While the other students were absorbed with their assignments, she sat down next to him.  “I wanted to be at his level, not towering over him like an authority figure,” she explained. “I spoke to him quietly and calmly and he began to calm down, too. I told him we would work on the question sheet together.  I didn’t give him the answers, but I guided him and he began to understand it.”

Soon, he had finished almost the entire assignment in one period, which was not the norm.  With just one question left, he began to get ready to leave.  But she encouraged him with, “We still have four minutes. Why don’t you see if you can finish it?  I know you can do it!” 

And he did. “He was beaming,” she told me. “He practically danced up to my desk to put it in the in-basket for one of the first times this year.  He proved to himself that he IS smart, and he was so proud.”

My prediction is that years from now, that boy will still remember how his teacher saw his greatness and believed in him.  That seemingly ordinary day may well mark the moment when he began to open his own special gift.

****************** Give the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ********************

I invite you to give a friend, colleague or loved one a truly unique gift that can change their life — ONE HOUR of Personal Success Coaching.  It is absolutely F*R*E*E* with no obligation and no strings attached!  You can give this to as many people who will really appreciate it as you wish.  (If you haven’t been in coaching with me for a while, feel free to claim it for YOURSELF, too!)

To schedule a F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help them clarify their Big Goals and get into ACTION to make this their BEST year yet, have them email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com or call 888-503-8145 to schedule their session.