The Wisdom of a Hundred and Three
I’d like you to imagine being 103 years old? Then stretch some more and imagine being that age and reading books in Spanish when your first language is English? Or how about being 103 years old and saying your three favorite words are “I don’t know”?
This was not easy for me to imagine until I actually met the one for whom this is not his imagination, it his life. Honing in on 104 and living fully at 103, Charles “Hap” Fisher is an extraordinary man who is living an extra ordinary life. A professional chemist and research administrator, his career accomplishments are numerous with professional publications and patents, many of which contributed significantly to today’s conveniences. If I had been successful in pursuing my college degree in chemistry, I would have attempted to learn more about his discoveries in organic chemistry and chemurgy, but since the genetic ability to understand such lies with my siblings, I instead focused more on his words of wisdom, freely shared with the confidence and unbridled honesty of a man who has fully lived a century and is ready to live more.
I don’t know…the three words that many shutter to say, let alone claim to be their favorite words. Yet as I heard him repeat them, with a slight chuckle and twinkle in his eye, I realized how instrumental they have been in his successes and in his life. They have allowed him to ask and live with a question, pursuing an answer that may or may not lead to a discovery, and allowed him to defer and listen to others to tap into their expertise and knowledge for the greater good, the larger cause. And they have allowed him to live with the wonder of a child evident even today at 103, constantly yearning to learn more, and to play with possibility toward his purpose of creating a better world.
While Hap understands the wisdom in saying “I don’t know”, it seems the more prevalent reaction to hearing, thinking or saying it is just the opposite: a judgment of ignorance. There are plenty of areas, chemistry as an example, that I am very comfortable claiming my ignorance and saying “I don’t know”; perhaps too comfortable. And then there are other areas and situations where I have wanted to say those words, and yet swallowed them whole fearful of the negative perceived consequences, and what others might think.
How many opportunities have I missed because I could not foresee the wisdom in saying “I don’t know” and thus have chosen to live in the ignorance? Ah, the test, do I say, “I don’t know” or do I acknowledge, a lot.
There were many other tidbits of wisdom gleamed from my conversation with Hap and our mutual friend Cabell; yet, his proud proclamation that these three simple words, I don’t know, are his favorite keeps ringing in my ears. I have added them to my list of courageous language, and even practiced saying them a few times, stepping into their wisdom and wonder, seeking to realize the opportunity they present to learn and discover.
I have had the privilege of working with many extraordinary people: people for whom average is not good enough and who recognize there is always more to discover, to learn; more brilliance to bring forth. Upon reflection, I see that not only are they willing to say or hear “I don’t know”, they are willing to take action because of it. They know what Hap knows; I don’t know has exponential potential to create possibilities, and through those possibilities, there is growth.
Imagine what the world would be like if more would seize the opportunity to say “I don’t know”, and expand their willingness to hear them. More discoveries? Absolutely. More conveniences? Possibly. More peace of being, peace of mind and enduring happiness? Yes. That I can imagine.
Allow yourself to say “I don’t know”, and let it be your teacher.
Allow yourself to hear “I don’t know” seeing the opportunity it presents for learning rather than judging or reacting.
Imagine being 103 and living with the wonder of a child.
About Extra Ordinary Living
Janet began her coaching journey in January of 2004, leaving behind a satisfying career as a healthcare executive. Working first under the company name, Tiberius Enterprises, in January of 2007, Janet adopted the company name, Extra Ordinary Living, symbolizing her desire to work with people who defy the law of average and want to live extraordinary lives, consistently adding the extra to the ordinary. Her by-line embracing sustainable change is reflective of two intentions. First is to have the changes a client makes have long term positive implications. Second is to live a life that respects the importance of sustaining our planet’s lives for generations to follow.
As an Executive Coach, Janet’s intention is to assist service professionals and organizations to maximize their return on human capital….managing human behaviors for optimal outcomes. Janet has repeatedly found that an individual’s professional and personal satisfaction and happiness is often limited by their very own “human capital.” She loves working with people to identify and own their natural tendencies, abilities and talents; to recognize their limitations, and apply all in creating the life they have historically only dreamed about. As a professional coach, Janet is trained to listen, to observe and to customize her approach to match her client’s needs. She provides tools, support, structure and accountability to help her clients unleash their full potential and optimize results.
Having a coach herself for over four years, Janet has found the best thing about coaching is that it is all about you, the client, and what you want. A coach may share her opinion, and give you advice; however, it is all up to you to pick and choose what you want to accept. A coach suspends judgment, and supports you in your decisions.
With the coaching philosophy as her foundation, Janet is also an inspirational Professional Speaker. She has spoken at local, state and national conferences, providing the plenary session as well as more structured workshops. Her goal is to impart useful, practical and memorable information in a fun and dynamic way to assist her audiences in living extra ordinary lives. Janet always customizes her content to match her audience.
Interested in learning more? Please contact Janet by phone at 540-342-3040, email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website, www.4extraordinaryliving.com.
Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach
Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.
"Be curious, not judgmental."
– Walt Whitman
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter."
– Lewis Carroll
Sustainable Living Tip: Meatless Monday
Expert estimate that 18% of the greenhouse emissions that are contributing to global warming are caused by the world’s live stock. The live stock raised to put meat on our table, nourishment in our belly. Not 5, not 10, 18%--a significant number that with a little effort on our part, we can reduce, and perhaps even improve our own health as a by-product.
I was raised to believe that dinner was not complete without a meat. Sometimes hidden in a casserole, but guaranteed it was on the plate, for it is was the primary source of protein, and from what I knew, the only source.
We Americans are known for our love of meat. So much so per capita consumption has increased 40% since the 1950’s, even as more have migrated to a vegetarian diet. Guess that’s what happens when we begin to supersize our portions, and enlarge our plates.
I have learned a lot about nutrition since those early days and know that there are other great sources of protein, and that reducing meat consumption reduces cholesterol, etc. And now I am learning that it also reduces our greenhouse emissions….maybe there is something to this idea that everything is connected.
Enter the concept of Meatless Mondays, a non-profit initiative in association with John Hopkins to reduce meat consumption 15% to improve the health of our planet and the health of our citizens. Kind of like BOGO. A bargain. www.meatlessmonday.com
Spreading to schools and restaurants, as it gains momentum, more and more are learning to enjoy healthy and tasty meals without meat. Check it out. Join in. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, grow stronger. One day without meat: helps the planet; helps your health; helps your check book; and makes all those other days that much tastier. Careful, you might like it. Trust me, I do.
Extra Ordinary Living Updates
I am entering the world of social networking. Would love to be your friend on Facebook and Twitter, JanetmCrawford; on Linkedin Janet Crawford, and will have a blog: www.4extraordinaryliving.