Article first published on CoachingActuaries blog in November, 2014.
“When walking in a party of three, I always have teachers. I can select the good qualities of the one for imitation, and the bad ones of the other and correct them in myself.” – Confucius
Being able to see that there is something I can learn from each single person I meet is a powerful mentality that has not only empowered me to consciously develop myself to become a better person, but also helped me to cultivate positivity and become a happier individual. When I looked back at the past four years since I moved to the United States, I almost had tears in my eyes when I realize how much my “teachers” have shaped who I am today.
In May 2011, towards the end of my junior year in Lakeland Jr./Sr. High School, I volunteered at the Graduation Commencement of the class before me as a greeter who handed out program books to parents and students attending the ceremony. After my volunteer duty, I sat down at the left corner in the back of the auditorium; there on the stage was Brandon who was about to deliver his valedictorian address. Brandon has always been a good friend of mine since I transferred into Lakeland as a junior. We had many common classes and ate lunch together. He was the most hard-working and intellectually curious student I knew at Lakeland – always looking for books that most high school students would never touch to read and learn beyond things taught in class.
A year later in my own Graduation Commencement, it was like a déjà vu when I stood before the podium getting ready to deliver the valedictorian speech. Knowing I was standing in the exact same spot as Brandon one year prior, I gazed at the left corner in the back of the auditorium, and smiled.
After graduating from high school, I was fortunate enough to be admitted into the Temple University Business Honors Program. Before the start of each school year, newly admitted business honors freshman students are invited to attend a 2-day outdoor leadership camp accompanied by officers of Business Honors Student Association, and that’s how I got to know Kerwing. Then a sophomore, Kerwing was also an actuarial science major, and he would be the first person came to my mind if I were asked to give a counterexample to challenge the stereotype that degrades actuaries as math nerds who are not good with people. In fact, Kerwing is the most people-oriented and most popular student in the business school. He is always smiling and laughing. He says “hey” to everyone, from the dean to the janitor and with the same level of respect. Almost everyone in the business school knows Kerwing, from students of other majors to recruiters of different industries; whenever people mention his name, you can see smiles on their faces.
As I began to hear people describing me the way I just described Kerwing, I realized having Kerwing as my “personality teacher” has put me on the right position to become the authentic and happy person I always wanted to be.
After looking back at stories like these, I suddenly realized that they not only validate what Confucius said about discovering things to learn from others, but also exemplify the Law of Attraction which is the central idea in the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne: “You become and attract what you think” – if you are able to discover things you can learn from other people, then you will be able to attract them into your life.