Heroes, Hooligans, and History-Makers

Heroes, Holigans, and Hostory Makers - 10-06-2016 copy

Heroes, Hooligans, and History-Makers

~ By Thirumur David Kiran

 

It’s been a week since the passing away of one of the greatest men of the 20th Century.

Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) was a boxer—and a great one as well. Yet, he was so much more than that. He was an icon, a motivator, a fighter, a rebel, and even a saviour to some. He was more than just the poster boy for a golden generation of heavyweight fighters—he was the poster boy for revolution, for making a difference, for standing up for what one believes is right. He didn’t just talk about holding to one’s beliefs; he showed that resolution when he gave up his title, his career, and some of his prime boxing years for a cause that he deemed right. He was an inspiration, a motivation, and a man who changed the world.

Today is his funeral and in the past week, countless tributes, obituaries, and statements have been written in honor of the great man. Trillions of alphabets have been spun into billions of words across millions of documents posted on all forms of electronic media—each with the intention of appreciating the passing legend. I personally have read dozens of them over the past week, as Muhammad Ali was a man that I personally looked up to and admired.

One article in particular caught my eye. It was written by Mike Costello of the BBC and was titled: “The Kid Who Lost a Bike and Found a Calling.” [1]

If you know me, you will know that I am intrigued with back story. I think that we tend to look upon and admire the end results of the journey of success, yet fail to study the genesis of the success idea and the journey that was travelled in order to bring it about. We obsess over the outward manifestations of success without seeing all the work that went on behind it. As one of my favorite quotes state:

“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character” – Alan T. Armstrong

I enjoy tracing that journey. Moreover, I am intrigued by what kick-started a successful career. I like to call them “genesis stories.” I always want to know how a success got started. I want to know what made a man what he is. I find—more often than not—that each story has a very interesting beginning. Muhammad Ali’s was no different.

Here is his genesis story: On a cold a windy evening in the downtown area of Louisville, Kentucky, a 12-year-old boy and his friends were scouring stalls inside the Home Exhibition Center. There was a big exhibition going on and they were hoping that they’d score some free popcorn or candy from a generous stall owner or two.

The year was 1954 and the streets weren’t always the safest on this part of town. When the boy emerged from the center, he found to his horror that his bike had been stolen. Anger and frustration came over him like a cloud and he began muttering curses and intended threats towards the unknown hooligan who had taken his prized possession. Oh, how he would hurt him when he found him!

A police officer happened to be walking by at the moment and overheard the boy muttering about how he was going to “whup” the thief who had taken his bicycle. The officer, Joe E. Martin, remarked to the lad, “Sonny, perhaps you’d better learn how to punch before you take on the thief.” He extended the invitation to young Cassius to come to the Columbia Training Center, where he was boxing instructor. The boy showed up the very next day. And the rest is history.

joeMartinToday, as Muhammad Ali’s body makes its final journey to its place of rest, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect not just on the man, the myth, and the legend, but to give credit to the man who made him what he was.

I cannot imagine a world that hadn’t been touched by Muhammad Ali. Our culture would not be the same without his contribution on it. Not only would fans have missed out on the breathtaking entertainment that he provided through his boxing skills and his theatric personality, but the world would have missed out on his standing up for the truth and his fight for the right. The world would be a lesser place had he not graced it.

This is why I feel it only fair to make this tribute not just to the great Ali, but to Joe Martin as well.

It was Joe Martin who directed him toward the passion that made him great. It was Joe Martin who first gave him the skills that he needed to become “the greatest.” It was Joe Martin who saw beyond the angry young boy in the streets of Louisville who was fixing for a fight and saw a man who could take his fight to the world and make it a better place.

Yes, the world would be a lesser place without Muhammad Ali. And we have Joe Martin to thank for that.

In my profession as a leadership speaker and motivator, I do a lot of teacher training. As schools get ready to kick off the new school year, it is my job to inspire and motivate the teachers and equip them with the tools that they need for the big job that they have ahead. The school year in India is kicking off next Monday, and so I have spent this week with a number of teachers in group settings.

One of the things that I try to help most teachers realize is how important their job is. If any of you are teachers or have been teachers before, you will know how easy it is to get burnt out on your job. Every day, you come face to face with 40 children who are all unique in character and mood swings. Every day, you have to try to convince them to learn. And it is a struggle. Some days, you don’t even want to do it.

I’ll never forget the joke that my father used to tell us about the boy lying in his bed, refusing to go to school. His mother came to the room to try to convince him, but he said: “Mom, I don’t want to go to school. Everybody hates me there. The students hate me, the teachers hate me, the cleaning staff hates me—even the canteen chef hates me! Please don’t make me go.” To which the mother replies, “Son, you have to go! You are the principal!”

As a teacher, sometimes it is easy to compare with those who have more glamorous jobs or are in roles where they receive more recognition and/or publicity. And we in society take on the same view. When we speak of heroes, teachers almost never come to mind. Politicians, actors, scientists, CEOs, founders of big organizations, sport stars—these are all the first names on our lips when the word hero pops into our head. I throw out this question every time to the teachers that I speak to and receive the same answers.

But then I present this reality to them: Every politician, actor, scientist, CEO, founder, and sport star, was—once upon a time—a child in a classroom. Before they became a success, there was a genesis story that made them that way. And more often than not, that genesis story started with a teacher or a mentor—someone who saw past who they were to what they could become.

They say that a teacher affects history; you can never tell where their influence stops. I wholeheartedly agree to that. I tell my teachers, “If you ever want to change the world, please stay right where you are!” There is no need to go out and try to make a difference—the difference is being made every day in their classroom. So what if they are not politicians, actors, scientists, CEOs, founders, or sport stars? The kids in their class will be all that one day and more!

I hold teachers in the highest regard. I save my choicest praise for the ones who help to groom little minds into the future of our planet. They are the ones who shape the destiny of our society and our world.

And so today as the world celebrates Muhammad Ali, I want to also celebrate Joe Martin—the man who gave the world Muhammad Ali. And I want to celebrate all of you wonderful teachers out there—the men and women who are giving us the hope of our future.

May you never see your job as insignificant. May you never see yourself as “just a teacher.” May you never see your job as anything less than it is: a platform to change the world from. You are making a difference. You are changing the world. You are making history. You are heroes! And we are forever grateful to you!

 

[1] http://www.bbc.com/sport/boxing/21533990

 

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This is not just another day!

I’ve always loved Sundays, because it is a good day to think and reflect on life. During the week, work often keeps us so busy that it’s all we can think about. And Saturdays are usually spent catching up on work that has spilled over or recovering from Friday night. 😉 But Sundays are different. Sundays give us time to think, to meditate, to absorb. Today, my meditation was on this particular thought:

“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the millions who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 900 million people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all. If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.”

Do you sometimes forget to be grateful? Worse yet, are you like me and often think that you have nothing to be grateful about? I know I do all the time. If you are like me, then I know you will appreciate this short little video. You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not!! And this video will show you why! Happy Sunday!!!

In Tribute to Mothers

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A little boy went up to his mother and he handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. This is what it said:

– For cutting the grass: $5.00
– For cleaning my room this week: $1.00
– For going to the store for you: $.50
– Baby-sitting my kid brother while you went shopping: $.25
– Taking out the garbage: $1.00
– For getting a good report card: $5.00
– For cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.00
Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there expectantly, and you could see the memories flashing through her mind. So she picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and this is what she wrote:
– For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me, no charge.
– For all the nights that I’ve sat up with you, doctored you and prayed for you, no charge.
– For all the trying times, and all the tears through the years, there’s no charge.
– For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead, no charge.
– For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose, there’s no charge, son.
– And when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is no charge.

When he finished reading what his mother had written, there were great big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight up at his mother and said, “Mom, I sure do love you.” And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “ALREADY PAID.”

 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you! Thank you for being the best Mom ever!

Someone gave me an early birthday present…and it made my day! :-)

The sweetest thing happened to me yesterday! I got back home from a long day and I found this heart-touching early-birthday-gift waiting on my desk. It totally made my day. One of the best gifts I have ever received!

To the wonderful person who gave me this (you know who you are), I thank you from the bottom of my heart! May I always aspire to live up to this. 🙂

Varalakhsmi Birthday Gift FrontVaralakhsmi Birthday Gift back

Teachers = History Makers!

Happy new week, everyone! I hope that it is amazing!

Having spent the last week doing teacher’s training seminars for teachers across Hyderabad, I’ve realized just how much we undervalue teachers. We don’t think of them in the same terms that we think of doctors or CEOs. We tend to place the teaching profession on a rather low rung on the social career ladder.

But what we don’t realize is that everyone who has gone on to fill the more vaunted positions on that ladder was once a student in a teacher’s classroom. Every hero that has graced our time was created, molded, and influenced by a teacher.

When we see it in that way, we see that the teaching profession is one of the greatest in the world! If you want to make history, teach the history-makers!

Someone sent me this comic strip after one of the seminars and I would like to share it with all of you. As it says, “What does a teacher make?–A difference!”

http://madeline.tickld.com/x/next-time-someone-mocks-teachers-for-making-less-money-show-them-this

Happy Mother’s Day!

A TRIBUTE TO ALL YOU MOMS OUT THERE! (And especially my wonderful mom!)

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.

Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was covered with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, etc.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.

He looked at her bewildered and asked, ’What happened here today?’ She again smiled and answered, ’You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?’ ’Yes,’ was his incredulous reply.

She answered, ’Well, today I didn’t do it.’