COMMENTARY: Changing Lives 747.1

Long ago when I was a law professor, I was at a conference and a man I didn’t recognize greeted me warmly. He said he wanted to thank me for changing his life.

I was embarrassed as I listened to him tell me that he had met me after a speech I had given at his law school. He said he was discouraged and disheartened about ever becoming a lawyer and that he was ready to quit. But I had counseled him and he had decided to stick it out.

He said he had been looking for me so he could tell me personally that not only had he graduated but had just become the nation’s first Mexican-American law school dean.

His decision to seek me out to share the story was a generous and much-appreciated gift I’ll never forget. But his description did not ignite my memory and I felt shallow and ashamed. Here this fellow was expressing deep gratitude for something I could not recall. I only began to forgive myself when I realized I didn’t remember the incident because I engaged in this sort of discussion with students often, and this conversation was not extraordinary for me. That’s what teachers are supposed to do: share their knowledge, provide alternative perspectives and offer encouragement and inspiration.

“Teachable moments” often arise unannounced and unnoticed. Teachers and parents hardly ever know what will be remembered and what will be forgotten. But if we want to have an occasional lasting impact we have to have faith that at least some of the things we say will really matter. And since we can’t always know what those things are, we have to presume that everything we say will matter.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 9

  1. Andy Andrews says it best in his talk and book called “The Butterfly Affect”…worth taking a look at. Made a difference in my life and how I look at things. Video is best because of the emotions, the passion in his voice, as he talks about EVERYTHING you do matters. Short book AND very worth the time!!!

    1. And I miss the chance to talk to you each morning. I hope we can make this blog and the podcasts work so i can continue to be an influence in your life.

  2. Michael Josephson made an impact in my life. He said things that made me think. He really made you stop & think about things going on in your life. Your conscience would really begin to speak to you and it would motivate you to make those moral and/or ethical changes in your life. I was raised in a not so nice neighborhood and in a household where no good morals or ethics were taught. There was no hugs & kisses and you were pretty much on your own. So, lets just say I was not a very good kid growing up. But much later in my adult life I began to listen to Michael and I began to apply his messages to my life and I have become a better person. I feel better about myself and other people see me as a changed person as well. Michael, Thank You! I truly enjoyed listening in the mornings. I really do miss him on KNX1070. I still listen to the news, but not as much as I used to when he was on. He truly was a part of the morning show. He will truly be missed. Maybe he will pop up on another station (wishful thinking).

    1. Wow, thank you for such kind and uplifting words. I am so proud and pleased to have made a positive difference in your life.

  3. Hi Michael, I’ve been listening to you at KNX for years and I did felt sad when they decided to remove your segment. I am your regular reader and it always inspires me. I keep a copy of some that I really like but most of the time I share it with my family and friends. My week is not complete if I don’t get to read your your post. You are awesome and we’re all lucky because there is someone like you who devotes his time trying to change the world to a better place one for everyone…

  4. I was fortunate to attend a life-changing seminar organized by B2G at the NIIA, Lagos Nigeria, where Micheal Josephson gave a wonderful speech, and my life did not remain the same. His speech was a source of encouragement and a reassurance that the moral decadence and high rate of corruption among the Nigerian people and leaders is not without solution. I wish we have people like Micheal in Nigeria. I also wonder why God will take such a person like Micheal to a place like the US where there isn’t much need for his wisdom. The insensitivity of our leaders to the condition of the led has been a source of worry to the concerned minds. The question that begs for answer is whether we are responsible for our problems or are our woes divine? I enjoin you not to relent in your transformation mission, and posterity will always remember you.

    1. Thank you for these uplifting words of affirmation. I believe you have in Nigeria all you need to transform the country from the present dominance of self-serving power to a people-centered, principle-based society. Please keep spreading the message wherever you go and don’t get discouraged. Cultural transformation takes time and will involve gains and setbacks. Stay on the front lines. The key is to tap into the huge reservoir of goodness within everyone. and please stay in touch – regularly.Your servant, Michael Josephson

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