How Excellent Handwriting Landed an Opportunity at Harvard

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The challenge with your natural talents is that they come so … well, naturally to you.  You don’t think anything of them, and so you often discount them and remain head down in the work you think will move you ahead in your career.

You may not always say so, but you want to share your gifts, live into your potential, and to know that your life (60% of which is spent at work) has made a difference.

What if you could become masterful at a craft you enjoy, while nurturing talents you never knew you had? And, what if “getting ahead” was more about improving your results then pushing hard to beat someone else?

Shirley is a retired public school teacher, who ultimately became one of Baltimore, Maryland’s most treasured principals.

“Did you always want to be a teacher?” I asked Shirley.

“Yep, I always knew. And, I knew exactly the moment I made the decision,” she shared.

Intrigued, I leaned in, waiting for a profound story about a mentor who saw her potential, took her by the hand and nurtured her talent in teaching. But her story was far more simple and practical.

“I was in grade school when Miss Brown looked over my shoulder and said, ‘You have mighty fine handwriting. You could be a great teacher,’” Shirley shared. “From that moment forward,” she said, “I began doing what I needed to become a teacher. If Miss Brown thought I could be a great teacher, then I could.”

Is it really that simple? Yes.

Does that mean the journey to stepping into your potential is always easy? No.

Begging off of Miss Brown’s belief, Shirley became one of Maryland’s greatest teachers, received recognition and respect as a principal, became a facilitator at Harvard, and held a leadership position at a prominent museum in Washington, D.C. She is seventy years young, and has the energy of a twenty-year-old.

“I love the learning process,” Shirley said, “And I am forever grateful for Miss Brown. Because of her, I always knew I could be great.”

Let’s get real here. Handwriting has very little (if anything) to do with being a great teacher. Pointing out excellence and sharing your belief in someone else—now that carries great weight!

Remember, when you see something great, say something great.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

 

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