Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You usually gain perspective on the other side of it...

That was certainly the case for Giuseppe, who is named for his father, and immigrant from Italy who had settled in California.  Because they lived in America, the family called him Joe.  But his father had his own nickname for him:  “good-for-nothing.”

Why did the elder Giuseppe call him that?  

Because Joe hated fishing.  That was seen as a terrible thing by the father, because he was a fisherman.  He loved the fishing business.  So did all of his sons - except for Good-for-Nothing Joe.  The boy didn't like being on the boat and the smell of fish made him sick. 

The boy offered to work in an office or to repair nets, but his father was simply disgusted with him and said he was good for nothing. 

The boy who was not afraid of hard work, deliver newspapers and shined shoes, giving the money to the family, but since it wasn't fishing the elder Giuseppe saw no value in it. 

Young Joe hated fishing but he loved baseball.  His older brother used to play sandlot ball and Joe used to follow them there.  And he was good - something of a legend among his playmates.  When Joe was sixteen he decided to drop out of school to become a baseball player.  By the time he was through with baseball, he was a legend.  He was christened as Giuseppe, but the nation came to know him as Joe DiMaggio, called the most complete baseball player of his generation.

And his father, the elder Giuseppe, what do you think about it?  Though he had wanted all of his sons to enter the family business, he was finally proud of his son and respected his accomplishments.  How could he not?  

Joe took the bad experiences and turned them into great experiences through the perspectives of learning.

Taken from:
Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn
by. John Maxwell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Character and Integrity

"On one warm spring day, a good ten plus years ago, I was walking in from the softball field with my class talking to my students. I happened to look behind me (as I often do when walking with groups of students) and noticed a student back in the pack leave the side walk to retrieve a tennis ball left in the parking lot. It was likely left from the previous tennis class; inadvertently (yea…right) hit over the top of the fence surrounding the courts.
My student picked up the tennis ball and promptly started bouncing and catching it as we all walked to the door of the school. Upon entering the school I held back a little, allowing students to pass me, and waited for the student who had retrieved the tennis ball to catch up to where I was.
As we met, I walked with this student toward the locker room and promptly asked him for the tennis ball so I could return it to the basket for use by upcoming tennis classes. His response was “I found it…I get to keep it.” I smiled, thinking he was kidding, and politely repeated my request.
He again indicated that the ball was his because he had found it, this time stating “finders keepers…losers weepers” as we moved closer to the locker room.
Continuing down the hall together, I then asked if he really believed that anything he finds becomes his, automatically, without any consideration to whom may have lost it, how it came to be where it was found, or any other mistake someone might have made. Without any hesitation…he said “yes.”
“Really?” I asked. He again nodded his head yes.
I then said…“So, what if someone were to say…deposit their paycheck at the drive up window of their bank, asking for $100 cash in return out of that deposit, and the teller sent back $700.00 cash along with the slip indicating the original deposit was not changed (meaning that $600 extra money was mistakenly sent back)…what should happen to that $600 extra dollars the teller mistakenly gave out?”
He said the person who got that money should just keep it.
I then asked what about the teller…they would likely lose their job with a drawer that is $600 short at the end of their working day. He said that that is too bad…they should not have made the mistake…that it was their problem…”too bad so sad”…he said.
I then told the student that the story I just told him actually happened. He said “really?” I continued stating that the person who was given that mistaken $600 gave it right back letting the teller know they had made a mistake. The student’s response…“what idiot would do that…give back $600 free money.”
I responded…“I did.”
My point to him was not to indicate what a nice guy I was, but that there are people (not just me) who do choose a different path than the one he is indicating he would follow. That even though he sees many of his peers make the same choice he would make, there is a better choice for him…for anyone.
Something else too…I would not be bringing up this story if I felt his was an isolated case. I have seen, after 34+ years in education, the same thought process (in one form or another) out of many of his peers (just as he did), especially over the last half of my career.
I have even had conversations with student aids and leaders who, when pressed, indicate that if someone does something against the “rules,” so to speak, and doesn’t get caught…then they did not really do anything wrong. That the only time it actually becomes a poor choice is when someone does get caught.
Me…I just stand there in amazement when students have indicated such…and one reason why I told this particular student (the one “stealing” the tennis ball) the story I did. Again, I wanted him to know there was a betterchoice…one where your conscience is clear…one where you can feel good about yourself because of the character and integrity you showed.
That is why it was so satisfying, almost relieving, to hear about San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt giving back the $500,000 he would have received if he had not told the Giants organization about the mistake in his recent contract extension. A clerical error would have given him $500,000 more than what he had originally agreed to, and legally…he could have held them to that if he wanted.
To me, Jeremy’s statement says it all:
“I can't take that money…I won't sleep well at night knowing I took that money because every time I open my paycheck I'll know it's not right.”
Now that’s character…the showing of integrity, something that former student of mine had not yet grasped. Awesome…a person with a conscience, a moral compass; a professional athlete willing to do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do, something we certainly don’t see every day. And an example a good number could take a lesson or two from as poor character choices seem to abound in all walks of life (need I mention Illinois politics)…and at many ages.
Oh…and that former student…the one I spent most of my time discussing in this piece…he never made it through high school, at least not where I taught. His poor choices likely continued, closing many doors of opportunity for him he probably never even knew existed!"
So sad!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Tiger

A teacher and his student were walking from one village to another, when they suddenly heard a roar behind them. Turning their gaze in the direction of the roar, they saw a big tiger following them.The first thing the student wanted to do was to run away, but since he has been studying and practicing self-discipline, he was able to halt himself from running, and wait to see what his teacher would do.

"What shall we do Master?" Asked the student.

The teacher looked at the student and answered in a calm voice:

"There are several options. We can fill our minds with paralyzing fear so that we cannot move, and let the tiger do with us whatever pleases it. We can faint. We can run away, but then it will run after us. We can fight with it, but physically it is stronger than us."

"We can pray to god to save us. We can choose to influence the tiger with the power of our mind, if our concentration is strong enough. We can send it love. We can also concentrate and meditate on our inner power, and on the fact that we are one with the entire universe, including the tiger, and in this way influence its soul."

"Which option do you choose?"

"You are the Master. You tell me what to do. We don't have much time." The student responded.

The master turned his gaze fearlessly towards the tiger, emptied his mind from all thoughts, and entered a deep state of meditation. In his consciousness, he embraced everything in the universe, including the tiger. In this state the consciousness of the teacher became one with consciousness of the tiger.

Meanwhile the student started to shiver with fear, as the tiger was already quite close, ready to make a leap at them. He was amazed at how his teacher could stay so calm and detached in the face of danger.

Meanwhile the teacher continued to meditate without fear. After a little while, the tiger gradually lowered its head and tail and went away.

The student asked his teacher in astonishment, "What did you do?"

"Nothing. I just cleared all thoughts from my mind and united myself in spirit with the tiger. We became united in peace on the spiritual level. The tiger sensed the inner calmness, peace, and unity and felt no threat or need to express violence, and so walked away.""When the mind is silent and calm, its peace is automatically transmitted to everything and everyone around, influencing them deeply", concluded the teacher.

By Remez Sasson

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

“Butterfly Courage”

Walking down a path through some woods in Georgia in 1977, 1 saw a water puddle ahead on the path. I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn’t covered by water and mud.  As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked!

Yet I did nothing for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected. I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already.  I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me.  Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful butterfly wings in front of me.  Had I been hurt I wouldn’t have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing.  After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!

Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward.  My attacker rushed me again.  He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail.  For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack.

Yet again, I tried moving forward.  My attacker charged me again.  I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn’t sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time, after all, it’s just not everyday that one is attacked by a butterfly. This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground.  That’s when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier.

He had a mate and she was dying.  She was beside the puddle where he landed.  Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her.  I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate’s sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large.  He did so just to give her those extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her.

Now I knew why and what he was fighting for.  There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and extremely muddy.  His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate’s safety justified it.  I couldn’t do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle.  He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed.  I left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.

Since then, I’ve always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me.  I use that butterfly’s courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for. 

Copyright 1997 Dave Kuzminski

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


There is a story told of a young boy whose older brother was in a car crash. The father approached the younger son shortly after the crash and said, "Son, if you will, you older brother needs a blood transfusion in order to live. The doctors have determined that only you can provide this blood . Will you provide blood for your brother so that he may live?" The younger son did not hesitate in aswering he would indeed help his older brother. Unknown to the little boy was the relative simplicity and safety of the procedure.

The car ride to the hospital was unusually quiet for this normally very talkative little boy. The father, at the same time in the most awkward and difficult position of his entire life, thought best to leave the young boy to his own thoughts. The father and young boy entered the now familiar doors of the town hospital. As the father and son sat in the hospital room, the nurse entered with the needle in hand. She commented how courageous the young boy was, prepared the boys right arm as she had done to hundreds of other patients over the years, and slowly inserted the needle into his arm ; the vial began to quickly fill with the young boys blood. After the vial filled, the young boy, with tears in his eyes, turned to his father and asked, "Daddy, how long do I now have before I die?"

Sacrifice isn't contingent on the cost, it's just doing what's necessary for others!!