In an earlier post, I shared that I had found the three posters that hung on my wall as a principal of many years. The first quote was: To have a sense of your own worth, you have to do something that is worthy of your own respect first. Chin-Ning Chu.
The second quote that found a place on my office wall as a school principal, was one from Mauriac: “No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving a mark on it.”
If we accept the premise that we are all teachers in some time in our lives, and I am sure this will be acceptable to all), even if the profession does not choose us, then this quote should find voice in our lives.
As parents we are teachers, and we need to teach. As leaders, we need to use the principles of effective pedagogy in our leadership, and when we do, we teach. Even as strangers, we can also teach. How many of us have been touched by the actions of a complete stranger? Sometimes a stranger unexpectedly enters our lives, our space, our moment, and in a foreign moment of intimacy, they leave us wiser, more informed or even experiencing the extraordinary feeling of a chanced love.
In all of these instances, a mark can be left on the life of another. In all of these instances, there is a teacher.
As a principal and a teacher, I have always wondered why in the multitudinous piles of bureaucratic paperwork that are constantly written and rewritten about our (Queensland- Australia) very large education system, what we do as teachers and how we do it, including our supposed espoused values, two words never seemed to appear…love and wisdom.
The reason is easily understood when we realize that we have ‘commodified’ children. We have made them into commodities which we measure in almost every year of the schooling. We have taken children and made them students, and love has no place when this happens, and without love, teaching becomes a series of processes to ensure conformity of product ….. conformity of child. Without love, we just leave stamp, we don’t leave a mark, and I would far prefer to leave a marks on a child’s life, than a stamp that says, ‘pass’ or ‘fail’.
All this measuring rests on the faulty belief that if we measure it enough, a child will improve…… a bit like saying the more we measure a cow, the more milk it will yield……. if it were only that easy!
Teachers need love in their work if they are to leave a mark on their children that is more than a simply measurable piece of bureaucratic or politician necessity … after all:
We can’t form our children in our own concepts; we must take them and love them as God gives them to us. Raise them the best we can, and leave them free to develop’- Goethe
…. and of interest is that fact that our performance will be measured by the children we create, and ultimately they in turn will judge our performance.
So how does this quote apply to the world of business? I see many instances of where the antithesis is paraded in the media and marketing. Most examples of this revolve around business folk who operate upon one primary driver, that of money. They are easy to identify. Some of their behaviours include: (i) They cannot be present with you – they are always looking for their next sale or their next potential customer (ii) Their language is dominated by the language of money. For example: ‘Buy now and save’ ….. , ‘If you really want to be successful, you need to buy this’ …. or ‘for you I have a special deal’. Predominant in their language are words like: sale, save, buy, need, product, me, my, I am, and finally, (iii) Their body language is temporary, their smile- plastic, their presence – absent.
Look for those in business whose being is driven by love/friendship. They are there. I see many.
A perfect example I encountered in my last visit to Canada. I met a fellow Toastmaster, a business woman whose very being felt as if it was driven by care/love of the other…… for me. When I was in her presence, I was IN her presence – she was present with me. I left her presence with a mark on my destiny……. it was awesome…. she was awesome. These individuals live the essence of Mauriac’s quote. It is easy to see it in their body language, and the choice of language itself.
In conclusion, I am please to admit that I had this quote on my wall, as I lead many schools around the state of Queensland. I spoke freely and openly that love was a primary driver in my role as a principal….. Many of my colleagues commented positively that I was so open about this.
I encourage you to reflect upon the worth of Mauriac’s words …………… in your life ….