Monday, March 22, 2010

Teaching Others to Fish By Helping
Them Reveal Their Own Inner Riches

'The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.'
--British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli

16 Comments:

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I think people live up to the expectations we hold them to and I expect wonderful things from the folks in my circle. Optimism is pretty contagious and a self fulfilling prophecy.

I know that many times, all it takes is an encouraging word from a friend to top off my tank.

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous j said...

I first read about Disraeli as a high school student in a biography (or was it an autobiography?) about Winston Churchill's mother, Jenny. Most of the details escape me, but there was a small part of the book I will never forget . . . .

She spoke about all the distinguished people she had met. Many of them left her in awe of their power and brilliance. Prime Minister Disrael however never failed to leave her feeling like SHE was one of the most wonderful, brilliant people alive. That quality is a singular gift to the hearts of those whose lives are so touched.

It was nice to see the quote and to know he was a man that lived as he spoke.

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Kim, I think every parent and teacher understands this implicitly. And that bit about Disraeli's way with people is nice. That's what all truly great people have in common--an interest in the individual they're with. It's not unlike that thing I mentioned a couple weeks ago about the moment in the film about Tolstoy, and how he showed such warmth and interest in his young assistant on their first meeting. You can't fake that.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

It's the ol' give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish argument, isn't it? Sort of.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Absolutely, Jim. A hoary cliche, I know, but cliches tend to become that way because they express an enduring truth.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

I basically agree with this. However, having been on vacation where it was easy out there in the wilderness to believe in the essential goodness and compassionate nature of humanity, because i was encountering a lot of that out there—then coming back to re-engage (not fully, luckily) with a local sub-culture of drama-addicted, wounded, narcissistic loudmouths—coming back to that, it's hard not to see that you can only lead some horses to the waters of encouragement, but you can't make them drink.

It's hard not to take on the local color of any group. Unless you're strong in your own self, have a lot of self-esteem, you can get swept away in the negativities of others.

Perhaps Disraeli really was able to somehow get people to see the best in themselves. I can believe that, from what I know of him; it would be consistent. Some people do brighten a room, just by being in it, and bring everybody up to their best selves.

Unfortunately, others do the opposite. Sometimes you have to stubbornly resist getting dragged down with them into a spiral of darker feelings. It can take a lot of effort not to get sucked in to their drama. And some resist feeling okay about themselves, no matter what you do.

I don't mean to be the voice of dissent, or to sound cynical. I'm just coming off some recent experiences (re-entry, post-vacation) that have forcefully reminded me that some people really do choose, for some reason, to be at their worst instead of their best. I wish you could get through to them, sometimes.

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

In that case, of course, we should just vote with our feet, and choose not to engage. Even if it's with extended family members.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger Kass said...

My favorite aunt leans into me whenever we have a conversation and listens so intently it's like a form of praise all its own. Somehow, I feel regarded (if not slightly brilliant).

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Lovely! No mystery in why she's your favorite, is there?

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger Richard said...

Art's comment reminds of the observation that everybody has the capacity to bring joy: some by entering a room, others by leaving it.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

That gave me a smile.

 
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