2012-08-23 / Editorial

Scattering Seeds

BY JOHN A. MURPHY

The value of persistence in pursuit of a worthwhile goal is an important lesson for a child.

Some measure of persistence is inherent, garnered naturally though the process of learning to walk and to talk.

But, the role of a parent passing on key qualities of character cannot be overstated.

I knew a father who taught his children principally not through his words, but by the life he led. Not all the lessons imparted were positive. Sometimes, like all humans, he might inadvertently teach by showing what not to do. But one positive value he demonstrated powerfully was the importance of persistence in the face of significant obstacles when pursuing an important objective.

This man came from modest beginnings. His father died when he was just starting out as a young adult. He was forced to drop out of school to support his mother. He never returned to school, but he was determined to succeed, and worked hard at every job he had. Through the dint of that work, he not only supported his mother, but raised a large family, the members of which were provided a comfortable life and a good education.

Later, when he was in his 50s, he was, based upon his work experience, given special student status in a professional degree program. The goal of becoming an educated man had never left him. While the oldest of his children attended college, he worked all day, and attended classes and studied at night. After four hard years of that regimen, he graduated, and received a doctoral degree.

He believed that his degree would permit him to take a licensing examination, and enter his chosen profession. That hope was dashed when he was informed that the lack of a college degree was an impediment, and that he would not be permitted to take the licensing exam.

He continued to work, and, after many years went by, he was informed by the licensing authority that his “life experience” was the equivalent of a college degree. He was to be permitted to take the licensing exam. That presented quite a hurdle, since he had completed his professional studies more than 10 years earlier.

But, once again, he studied. He passed the exam and became a member of his profession when he was in his mid-60s.

That led to a long career, more than 30 years long, in that profession. Many honors came his way, as he was given leadership roles in his profession and in his community. His persistence was richly rewarded.

A more important moral of this little story is that good parents know that everything they do is an important lesson for their children.

A final note: Without the support and guidance of his wife, the father could not have achieved his personal objective, and the value of persistence would not have been effectively imparted to their children.

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