Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dr. Faulkner: Once in a Lifetime

How often have we heard that title phrase?  Almost every time I turn on the TV, someone tries to convince me this is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to buy something – a car, a set of knives, a diet supplement.  You know the pitch.  The phrase is so overused it has become trite.

A recent passage I read awakened me to how little we pay attention to once in a lifetime experiences.  It is from an introductory symposium article by Tony Middlebrooks titled New Perspectives of Leadership in the Journal of Leadership Studies (2013, Vol. 7, Number 2.)  The passage says, “I once considered writing a book that would be titled something like The Time of Their Life, where I would profile individuals who worked in professions where their every day was a once-in-a-lifetime day for the rest of us: funeral directors, maternity nurses, fire fighters, wedding photographers,  etc.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we all do jobs that are quite often a single experience, and perhaps quite an important one, for others.”

We all encounter students on our campus that we may never encounter again.  Walking across campus, at the business office counter, or in student services are all places we may meet students for the first and last time.  In those situations, we are doing what we routinely do, but for the student it is a once in a lifetime encounter and so while we may have delivered the same message to 50 other students, it is the first (and maybe the last) time we will interact with them.

Even when we have repeated interactions with students, we never know when a particular incident will be a life changing once in a lifetime encounter.  Though they may sit in our class day after day and week after week, we never know how the words and actions of a single instance may have a lifelong impact.

And so every day we have once in a lifetime opportunities, not to sell knives, but to impact the lives of those around us, especially our students.  I don’t want to miss any once in a lifetime events and I hope you don’t either.
-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for calling attention to the potential of every interaction we have with others. We often learn much later what our influence has done for others, and we sometimes forget those significant moments when others have strongly impacted our lives.