Connectivity: Fruit of our Labor

This is a quote from Gandhi that I shared with students back in the day:

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Today, I reached out to a former student whom I taught when he was in high school. He is now a graduate student and teaching assistant at John Hopkins studying Physics and Astrophysics. He was accepted to various projects as an undergrad at NASA and in Germany. I’ve been so incredibly proud of him as I am of all the students that I’ve remained in touch with. I was just checking in on him and requested a mentoring recommendation for an opportunity I’m interested in pursuing. I learned something, that touched me very deeply, because I had no idea.

As a teacher and a coach, you know down deep inside that you make a difference, but sometimes you don’t know the nature of that difference. Teachers and coaches are not often concerned about that. We just know that much like Gandhi said, it is the action that we know we must take; the careful crafting of lessons, the self-reflection on our delivery so we can improve, the smallest interactions we can have to lift up our students when they are having a rough day, forgiving ourselves when we want to beat ourselves up for not being perfect at our efforts to teach/coach.
The same is true for us as humans no matter our occupation. We need to take action on things that we know we can make an impact even if we don’t get to see that impact. The important part is the action. As caretakers of our own being, we know we should act on self-care to be healthier; to do our part in our community; to connect ourselves or our resources to those in need; to be kind to strangers; to embrace failure or suffering without wallowing in it so we can grow; we need our self to act. Others need us to act. Sometimes we don’t feel like taking the action we know we should take. Yet, we are all in this together.

Sometimes we get lucky and get a glimpse of the fruit.

And sometimes, even though it is only the action that is really important, and not ever seeing the fruit of our labor, we are fortunate to get a glimpse of it…

Fruit of the Labor

While I knew of my student’s success, I had no idea, until today that I (my action) had so much to do with the pathway that he had chosen along with his joy and success. He told me that my offering to take a dozen students from our high school to the Origins Symposium event at Arizona State University was what cemented his pathway to study Physics and Astrophysics. The event was to feature Stephen Hawking as the keynote speaker. There were moments of frustration in making all the arrangements, most of all permission slips, LOL; rushing around to get a 15-passenger van and driving it full of teens in rush hour traffic, over-looking a temporary stop sign in a construction area (of course the teenagers gave me hell for that! LOL!!); and it turned out that Stephen Hawking was ill in a California hospital and could not attend the event; lastly, it was a very late night getting home on a school night. But it was all well worth it, because I knew it was a worthy thing to do, it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t know why or what would become of it. The students were all polite and thanked me for taking them, they were appreciative. But I learned today one thing that did become of it. A young gentleman with a brilliant mind was inspired to become an astrophysicist because of that event. Who knew? I don’t know the remainder of that story and I don’t know if or how that one evening impacted the other students if at all. But it doesn’t matter, the action taken is the only thing that mattered then, at the time of opportunity.

It is kind of nice that I received a glimpse of the fruit of the labor, in fact, it’s very nice! It’s a good reminder of Gandhi’s quote. It’s a reminder of the connectivity we all share. Today, I reached out to a friend and asked for help. He is a great business mentor and coach (yes, coaches need coaches too!) and he guided me to some amazing clarity. He took action. And now, I must take action on that clarity, one because I need to honor his action, two because people need me to take action.

What action do you need to take? What action will you be taking this weekend, next week, this month?