Six Great Lessons
- The Important Things Life Teaches You...
~ 1 ~ Most Important Question
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop
quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the
questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of
the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke.
I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired
and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper,
leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked
if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely,"
said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are
significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do
is smile and say 'Hello'." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also
learned her name was Dorothy.
~ 2 ~ Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was
standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing
rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man
stopped to help her - generally unheard of in those conflict-filled
1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her
into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his
address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came
on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was
delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank
you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain
drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits. Then you came along.
Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just
before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole
~ 3 ~ Always remember those who serve
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy
entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass
of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" "Fifty
cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his
pocket and studied a number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of
plain ice cream?" he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table
and the waitress was a bit impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she said
brusquely. The little boy again counted the coins. "I'll have The plain
ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill
on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the
cashier and departed. When the waitress came back, she began wiping down
the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed
neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies - her
~ 4 ~ The Obstacle in Our Path
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he
hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.
Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and
simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not
keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big
stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his
burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much
pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up
his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the
boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from
the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the
boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never
understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one's
~ 5 ~ Giving Blood
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I
got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and
serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously
survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies, needed to
combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little
brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to
his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep
breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save Liz." As the
transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as
we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew
pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor
and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?"
Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was
going to have to give his sister all of his blood.
~ 6 ~ I've Two Choices
Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good
mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask
him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be
twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had
followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the
waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural
motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling
the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing
this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and
asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the
time. How do you do it?" Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and
say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be
in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood." I choose to be
in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a
victim or I can
choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone
comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I
can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of
life." "Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested. "Yes it is,"
Jerry said, "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk,
every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations.
You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good
mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live
life." I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the
restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but often
thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting
to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are
never supposed to do in a restaurant business, he left the back door
open one morning and was held up at gun point by three armed robbers.
While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness,
slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was
found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was
released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his
body. I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him
how he was, he said, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my
scars?" I declined to see his wounds but did ask him what had gone
through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went
through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry
replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two
choices - I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to
live. "Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.
Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I
was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room
and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got
really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man. " I knew I
needed to take action." "What did you do?" I asked. "Well, there was
a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if
I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses
stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and
yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told
them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not
dead." Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because
of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the
choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.
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