And what about me? Whom do I recall as my own favorite teacher? I’m sure every reader of this book would like to know!
OK, you’ve dragged it out of me. Dr. Peter Lucchesi, my freshman college “Rhetoric" teacher at Stonehill College, once gave me an F for an early essay assignment. That’s right me, now a professional writer, an F for a writing assignment!
Devastated, confused, I went to speak to him about it. He received me graciously and went through his reasons for the grade. He was clear about what he felt I had done right and also wrong. To be honest, I can no longer remember what his reasons were. But I do recall he tried to help me understand why he reacted the way he did. Then he shoved me out the door to go back to my desk and try to do it over again.
I worked very hard at the second attempt. I paid scrupulous attention to every word… every noun, verb, preposition, syllable. Then, trepidatiously, turned the new paper in.
About two days later, while moving through the college cafeteria on my way to the lunch line, I saw Dr. Lucchesi huddled alone at a table, slurping down some soup. As I walked near where he was, as he was right on my way, I wondered if I should approach him and ask him how I did. Naturally, I was scared about what he would say. But he spotted me at that moment and motioned me over.
“You did it!" he called out to me, bursting with delight. “You did it! You got it right this time!" Relieved, I listened to every word he had to say about what I had done to fix the problem. Then he told me the grade he had given me on the new paper: B-plus.
I never forgot the rush of good feeling I had that day for Dr. Lucchesi who cared enough to shout out to me in the middle of a noisy cafeteria that I had done well, and that he was happy for me. I realized at that moment he had been pulling for me all along. This sort of compassion means more to us than mere facts or knowledge of math formulas or chemistry equations ever could. When someone cares, when someone believes that we can do it, we get energized to prove them right. Forever after, such mentors become our favorites.
Ken Lizotte CMC is Chief Imaginative Officer (CIO) of emerson consulting group inc. (Concord, MA), which transforms consultants, law firms, executives and companies into “thoughtleaders. " This article is an excerpt from his newest book “Beyond Reason: Questioning Assumptions of Everyday Life".
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