POINT TO PONDER
"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul..." - Carl Jung.
STORY LINE by George Samuel
I want to talk about a true life story which exemplifies true leadership to me. The context of this story is in an educational institution, but its implication can be in any business environment wherever there are leaders and employees.
The story is about a girl, Sarah, who in 1985 was attending a Parent / Teacher meeting with her parents in her elementary school during her 1st grade. Her teacher, Ms. Solomon was a very strict person who taught English and other subjects. When Sarah’s parents approached the teacher, she took them aside and said emphatically "Your daughter is very slow in class, she sits back of the class (as she was tall in her class), and is scared to answer questions when I ask her. Add to that, she gets sick quite often. She needs 1:1 coaching and a lot of prayers to get to the next grade". Imagine how sorry her parents felt after the meeting. Since then, they focused on pushing Sarah to be more outgoing, spend time with her class work, and allow less time for play. But somehow all their efforts were not delivering results.
Every year at the end of the class term, they would be very nervous to see whether Sarah has progressed to the next grade. As her school bus would reach their bus stop and Sarah would come down, the first thing was to check her report card ... and then heave a sigh of relief that she barely made the cut to the next grade. Things continued like this for the next 3 years, until one day as she was preparing to go to school to pick up her end term report, she said "Mommy, I am excited to go to get my grades. I think I will get 5 As this time". Her Mom smiled and thought it was her childish mind wishing for the stars - whereas in reality it would be a miracle for her to just move on to the next grade, as always.
A few hours later, her school bus arrived, we saw Sarah coming down the steps and falling over her Mom’s outstretched arms. She said "Did I not tell you that I will get 5 A’s. Here, see my report!". As her Mom opened the report card, she started crying in joy! She had never seen so many A’s in her report card and not a single F. How did this miracle take place?
As it happens, in the 4th grade, Sarah had a teacher Ms. Sheila, who for some unknown reason wanted to talk more with the shy girl. She would ask questions like "What do you like to do, what makes you happy?" and would patiently wait for Sarah to respond slowly. She mentioned that she would go to church and Sunday school regularly and learn new songs. Her teacher asked her to sing these songs to her. Seeing a talent in her, the teacher took a chance. She asked her school headmistress, "Every afternoon, before the school is dismissed, you say a short prayer. Is it possible that after that, Sarah can sing a small song as well?" The headmistress thought for a moment, and then approved it. Sarah loved it and did a good job. She got another chance soon and within no time, Sarah was regularly singing in front of others for other events.
Now, Sarah was no longer an unknown student, as other kids and other teachers started recognizing her for her talent. Sarah started feeling confident. Right at this time, her teacher said "Just like you are good in your singing, you can be excellent in your academics if you want. You just need to work hard and I will help you". That was all Sarah needed. Since then, she started putting focus in her studies, wanting to do well in her exams. That confidence garnered through singing was now been seen in her attentiveness and results in her tests culminating to that winter day when she came home with 5 As in her report card.
Since then, Sarah has not looked back. She continued singing in her church and with her strong work ethic, stood first in her high school exams and then a few years later, got admission to a reputed medical school. After doing exceedingly well there, she is now completing her residency at a top US hospital. All of this would not have been possible, if the 4th grade teacher did not believe that Sarah had the potential to do well. How do I know Sarah? She happens to be my younger sister and so I was able to see all of this in front of my eyes.
Every leader in an organization has the opportunity to develop talents in their employees. It takes time and effort but will only start if you look at each individual and try to find their passions and blend that to the company needs. If you have someone who believed in you, feel free to share your story to others.