GRIT + CAN = Success
It was the early 1960s in east Texas. A young 12 year old boy is classified as “mentally retarded” and destined to live a life with no education or opportunity. Why? He had dark skin and was totally blind. His future seemed bleak until my friend Art Cruser insisted that he be allowed to work with the boy to teach him to read. In a matter of weeks the boy was reading at grade level and was beginning to thrive in every way.
Art taught at the Texas School for the Blind for 35 years and was recently invited to a reunion of school graduates from the 1960s and 1970s. That young boy from east Texas is now the proud father of three and a professional success in every sense of the word. He was thrilled to introduce his family to Art. “This is the man I’ve told you all about” he told his boys. “He is the one who taught me to read and gave me the opportunity to go on and pursue an education.” From a seemingly hopeless beginning, he has since gone on to earn his doctorate and has served as the head of departments at two major universities in Texas.
Another of Art’s students received a full scholarship to the University of Texas, graduated at the top of his class at the University of Texas School of Law and is now a full partner at a law firm in Houston. His wife, the valedictorian from the School for the Blind, was from a family of sharecroppers and one of 12 children. Her family’s tradition was that the older kids would delay marriage while they worked to help put the younger children through college. She went on to head all the education programs for the visually impaired in the Houston area.
Art had story after story to tell about the amazing successes of some of his students at the Texas School for the Blind - inspiring and amazing stories of people who overcame a challenge under which most of us would shrink. As Art shared these stories with me, his face and eyes conveyed the pure joy and satisfaction he experienced in reflecting on his students’ lives and successes. His admiration for these individuals is evident in every detail he shared. The work ethic and determination of Art’s students are praiseworthy as are his own personal commitment and heart for serving others and his ability to see hidden potential for greatness in others.
Through his experiences and stories, Art taught me three things:
A life of service to others is more satisfying than any kind of monetary compensation.
“It takes 90% attitude and willpower and 10% brains” to succeed. Art says that has been his philosophy throughout his 35 years of teaching and additional years of service in other areas.
He told me “the thing that all of my successful students shared is that they did not have the word can’t in their vocabulary.”
No matter what your current situation, goals or challenges, how can YOU strive to keep a positive attitude and not allow “can’t” to enter your vocabulary?