“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Harry Truman, 1884-1972
President ‘Harry’ was a smart parent.
When any of us ask for advice, aren’t we really asking for someone to encourage us in what we want to do? And sometimes, that’s a really good thing.
Take, for instance, the case of Anthony Hollander.
As a kid, Anthony had a sneaking suspicion he had a gift to heal people. He didn’t say it quite in those terms. In the words of his nine-year-old self, “I think I no how to make people or animals alive.”
If his grammar or spelling was any indication, adults might have begged to differ.
Fortunately, they didn’t.
Fortunately, in fact, some kind adults at a children’s TV show in 1973 merry old England recognized a certain passion in their young viewer. While they responded to Anthony’s note with a note of their own, they couldn’t supply him with his requested items:
1. Diagram of how evreything works. [inside youre body.]
2. Model of a heart split in half. [both halvs.]
3. The sort of sering they yous for cleaning ears. [Tsering must be very very clean.]
4. Tools for cutting people open.
5. Tools for stiches.
6. Fiberglass box, 8 foot tall, 3 foot width.
What they did provide Anthony was far more impactful.
They responded with a letter, acknowledging and applauding his enthusiasm.
It was the encouragement from that one letter that made a difference to not only Anthony, but consequently, to the world.
The TV show folks couldn’t possibly have known the future. But without their support, the world might not have benefited from Anthony’s dream to heal people, to make them alive, as he put it.
Anthony Hollander grew up to be a professor of rheumatology and tissue engineering at the University of Bristol in England. His work played a pivotal role in a 2008 ground breaking surgery. He helped grow the cells for the first successful implantation of an artificially grown windpipe into a 30-year-old Columbian mother.
The news about the windpipe itself was of extra special interest to this patient-author who has some issues with her own.
Anthony has this to say about the encouraging note he received decades ago:
“If [the] letter had shown any hint of ridicule or disbelief I might perhaps never have trained to become a medical scientist or been driven to achieve the impossible dream, and really make a difference to a human being’s life. I remember being thrilled at the time to have been taken seriously. Actually, even nowadays I am thrilled when people take my ideas seriously.”
Think you can’t, or don’t, change the world? You do with your own actions, and maybe with words you say to someone who fosters them for decades to come.
P.S. For more of the story, visit: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/03/i-think-i-no-how-to-make-people-or.html
Psst…wondering, like me, what a sering is? A syringe, of course!
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