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
2 ~ Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older Black 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
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 serving others."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 tip.
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 condition.
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. 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
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
"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. You have 2 choices now:
1. Save or delete this mail from your mailbox, or
2. Forward it to people you care about. Hope you will choose No. 2.