We tend to think of profound change as a process that happens over time.
Sometimes, that’s true. But other times, deep, lasting change can happen in a moment. I have no idea if there’s a clinical name for it, but I’ve seen it happen so many times, I just started calling it “snapping.” As in something snaps you into a new awakening or state of being.
It could be a deed, a word, an experience. Seconds long. Something that shifts your belief and empowers faith and action. Sometimes that new state is negative or destructive. I’m more fascinated with positive or constructive snapping.
In this week’s episode of Good Life Project™, iconic designer and founder of New York magazine, Milton Glaser, shared just such a moment. Something happened more than 50 years earlier in his life. A moment that lasted no more than a few minutes. Yet, he’s never forgotten it. The impact was that deep.
The story gave me chills as he told it. So, I felt I had to share it here with all of you:
When I was in junior high school, I had the opportunity to take the entrance examination to either Bronx Science, which is a great New York school, or the High School of Music and Art, another great school…
And I had a science teacher who was very encouraging for me to enter into science. I was very good at science and he wanted me to go to Bronx Science. And I was evasive about that, because I didn’t want to tell him that it ain’t gonna happen.
But the day of the entrance exam, they occurred on the same day, I took the entrance examination to the High School of Music and Art. And the next day I came into school, he was in the hallway as I was walking down, and he said, “I want to talk to you.”
I said, “Uh-oh — the jig is up, he’s going to find out I took the ‘wrong’ exam.” He said, “Come to my office… Sit down.” And, as I was sitting there, he said, “I hear you took the exam for Music and Art.” And I said, “Um, yes.” And then he reached over, and he reached into his desk, and he pulled out a box of French Conté crayons — a fancy, expensive box — and he gave it to me, and he said, “Do good work.”
I can’t tell that story without crying, because it was such a profound example of somebody, an adult, authority figure, sophisticated man, who was willing to put aside his own desire for something, his own direction for my life, and recognize me as a person who had made a decision. And he was, instead of simply acknowledging it, encouraging it with this incredibly gracious and generous gift…
The thing about it that always astonishes you is that moment, it couldn’t have taken more than two minutes, was totally transformative about my view of life, my view of others, my view of education, my view of acknowledging the other.
If this resonated, do yourself a huge favor and watch the full conversation (you can also download the mp3 and listen). It’s stunning (has nothing to do with me, it’s all Milton).
Glaser makes me want to be not only a better maker, but a better man.
So, my question is…
Have you found that one person, that one moment in your own life?
If so, I’d love to invite you to share it in the comments.
And, maybe even more powerful…
What might happen if YOU became that person for someone else?
Something to noodle on.
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