You may recognize the book “The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton. It is an update of “The Richest Man in Babylon” which is one of the best financial planning books of all time. The message is simple. Avoid debt. Live within your means.
This week I had the good fortune to attend an event where David Chilton was speaking. It was great fun, great education, great motivation and full of great messages.
The most important message was that people should be more grateful for what they have. Success is NOT measured by the acquisition of things. Success if measured by your ability to achieve your goals.
While listening to Mr. Chilton, my mind wandered back to my recent visit to India. India is a land of extremes – both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. While walking the streets of Mumbai my local “guide” made a two-part comment.
1. There were lots of people who lived in the slums of Mumbai; and
2. Many people who could afford to leave the slums were happier living in them
This was an attitude that is extremely foreign to people in North America? How could this be? Mumbai is proud to be home to one of the biggest slums in Asia. In fact you can take a tour. In fact a book has been written about this slum. It’s called “Poor Little Rich Slum“. The theme – happiness is not a function of what you have, it is a function of who you are!
A brief summary:
One little two little three little Indians, four little five little six little Indians, seven little eight little nine little lndians One million little Indian entrepreneurs.These are the stories of the little people who make up the Big Idea of Dharavi.A slum of energy, enterprise and hope.Where every hand is busy, every head held high. Where people could be miserable but choose to be happy.A choice each of us can make.
Wellesley High School, in Wellesley, Mass., is among the best in the United States, a stately institution with a student body that has bankers and lawyers and doctors as Moms and Dads and high expectations of studying in an Ivy League setting.
On a recent afternoon, the class of 2012 gathered for commencement, an annual rite of passage typically marked by impassioned speeches about how they, the new graduates, are the best and the brightest.
Privileged, exceptional, wonderfully unique and destined to go forth and make a difference.
But the difference, on this sun-dappled afternoon, was the message David McCullough Jr., an English teacher at the school, had for the crop of Wellesley kids in their crimson graduation caps and gowns.
“You are not special,” he told them.
“You are not exceptional,” he said.
“Contrary to what your U9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you, you’re nothing special.”
There was laughter, even applause from among the assembled students.
Perhaps because a middle-aged man wearing a blue shirt, blue jacket, blue tie — with reading glasses perched on the end of his nose — uttered The Great Unspoken truth on a day typically reserved for hollow platitudes: Our kids are not special. They are just kids. And not so different from the next kid, or the 3.2 million other kids who graduate from American high schools each year.
Coddling, cuddling, pampering, pumping them full of self-entitlement, giving them ribbons for simply showing up and barricading them behind material advantage only insulates them from the real world. The hard knocks world. The world they enter after high school.
Mr. McCullough’s speech, which, naturally, went viral on the Internet, landed him on Fox News, CBS and a bevy of other U.S. media outlets where he was either bashed or praised for telling it like it is.
It’s not an easy thing to do. The stakes can be high. Lynden Dorval, a physics teacher at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, was suspended last month for giving students zero for missed work, an outrage that ran counter to the school’s “No Zero Policy.”
“These are high school students,” Mr. Dorval told me when we spoke. “They are becoming adults. They are getting ready to step out into the real world, and it is time for them to start taking responsibility for their own actions.”
Several retired Edmonton teachers have come forward in Mr. Dorval’s defence while also charging that the no zero policy artificially inflates marks in a province where education funding models are tied to grade point averages.
Wellesley High is not average. Not on paper. Its students are going places. It is where they go, and how they get there, that Mr. McCullough finds troubling. He lamented an American era where accolades outstrip genuine achievement; where “building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin [College] than the well-being of Guatemalans”; where it is no longer whether you “win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it, it’s “So what does this get me?”
Generation Me is not a new phenomenon. Parents, schools, sports associations, have all been stuffing the powder keg with dynamite for years. Look around next time you are standing in line at the ice cream parlour or dropping the kids off at daycare.
Little Suzie throws a tantrum and what happens? Mom and Dad cave. Tantrum-thrower winds up with two scoops of mint chip in a waffle cone. They win, and we let them — even when they don’t.
But to be a true winner, to wrest full value from life, one has to earn its rewards and understand that, as a now famous American high school teacher said, “you’re not special” because everyone is.
“The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer,” Mr. McCullough said.
“Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.
“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
Do you ever pretend to be independent of the opinions others hold of you? I know that I often find myself in that trap these days. Some part of me still desires to please other people beyond reason, while a deeper part of me, my Soul-Talk, encourages me to stand in the integrity of who I am, of what I perceive, and of what I know.
Record numbers of first-year university students flocked to campus this fall—but that hasn’t stopped nagging questions about the value of a bachelor’s degree. Despite persuasive statistical evidence that graduates find careers related to their studies and earn more than others over a lifetime, Canadian universities are under the gun to demonstrate what it means to have a degree. Continue reading Will an undergrad degree really help you get a better job?→
There was a time when students were only called into their guidance counsellor’s office for one thing: to fill out a career questionnaire and determine if they were best suited for life as a doctor, lawyer or rocket scientist.
“There’s traditionally been a bias toward the university-bound students, and a lot of the information supplied was for students in that group,” said Carol MacFarlane, career programs co-ordinator for the Vancouver School Board. “It always has been an uphill battle when offering programs that are outside of that realm – for example, the trades. That’s changing.” Continue reading Guidance counsellors shedding their university-or-bust philosophy→
Philosophy addresses some of the most fundamental and difficult questions there are: What is the nature of reality? Do people have free will? What is a just society? What is the best way to live? Philosophy as an academic discipline attempts to answer these questions with a combination of creativity and analytical rigor.
The study of philosophy is thus obviously valuable in itself. But it is also excellent preparation for many careers and professional and graduate programs. In particular, it helps students do very well on tests such as the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT.
The links below discuss some ways philosophy students succeed in various fields.
This essay in The Atlantic Monthly explains: “if you want to succeed in business, don’t get an MBA. Study philosophy instead.”
This New York Timesarticle discusses the employment success philosophy majors have, especially in fields such as medicine and technology.
This New York Timesarticle tells the story of a highly successful mutual fund manager who studied philosophy at the graduate level and put his skills to use in finance.
This Globe and Mailpiece gives data showing philosophy majors are well trained for business and perform excellently on standardized tests such as the GMAT.
Department of Philosophy University of Waterloo 200 University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1 519 888 4567 x32449 fax: 519 746 3097
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Published On Wed Oct 05 2011
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life,’ Jobs said.
This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. Continue reading Find what you love, Jobs told Stanford grads→