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March 2005

Quote: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan

Story: As a Man Soweth

When I was in junior high, the eighth-grade bully punched me in the stomach. Not only did it hurt and make me angry, but the embarrassment and humiliation were almost intolerable. I wanted desperately to even the score!

I planned to meet him by the bike racks the next day and let him have it. For some reason, I told my plan to Nana, my grandmother - big mistake. She gave me one of her hour-long lectures (that woman could really talk). The lecture was a total drag, but among other things, I vaguely remember her telling me that I didn't need to worry about him.

She said, "Good deeds beget good results, and evil deeds beget bad results." I told her, in a nice way, of course, that I thought she was full of it. I told her that I did good things all the time, and all I got in return was "baloney!" (I didn't use that word.) She stuck to her guns, though. She said, "Every good deed will come back to you someday, and every bad thing you do will also come back to you."

It took me 30 years to understand the wisdom of her words. Nana was living in a board-and-care home in Laguna Hills, California. Each Tuesday, I came by and took her out to dinner. I would always find her neatly dressed and sitting in a chair right by the front door. I vividly remember our very last dinner together before she went into the convalescent hospital.

We drove to a nearby simple little family-owned restaurant. I ordered pot roast for Nana and a hamburger for myself. The food arrived and as I dug in, I noticed that Nana wasn't eating. She was just staring at the food on her plate. Moving my plate aside, I took Nana's plate, placed it in front of me, and cut her meat into small pieces. I then placed the plate back in front of her. As she very weakly, and with great difficulty, forked the meat into her mouth, I was struck with a memory that brought instant tears to my eyes. Forty years previously, as a little boy sitting at the table. Nana had always taken the meat on my plate and cut it into small pieces so I could eat it. It had taken 40 years, but the good deed had been repaid. Nana was right. We reap exactly what we sow. "Every good deed you do will someday come back to you." What about the eighth-grade bully? He ran into the ninth-grade bully.

By Mike Buetelle

February 2005

Quote: Keep you face in the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows

Story: Rites of Passage

Some of the most poignant moments I spend as a veterinarian are those spent with my clients assisting the transition of my animal patients from this world to the next. When living becomes a burden, whether from pain or loss of normal functions, I can help a family by ensuring that their beloved pet has an easy passing. Making this final decision is painful, and I have often felt powerless to comfort the grieving owners. That was before I met Shane.

I had been called to examine a ten-year-old blue heeler named Belker who had developed a serious health problem. The dog's owners - Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane - were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four- year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane could learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me - I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life - like loving everybody and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

By Robin Downing, D.V.M.

January 2005

Quote: Nothing lasts forever. Not even your troubles.

Story: Rites of Passage

A British family journeyed to Scotland for a summer vacation. The mother and father were looking forward to enjoying the beautiful Scottish countryside with their young son.

One day the son wandered off all by himself and got into trouble. As he walked through the woods, he came across an abandoned swimming hole, and as most boys his age do, he took off his clothes and jumped in. He was totally unprepared for what happened next. Before he had time to enjoy the pool of water, he was seized by a vicious attack of cramps.

He began calling for help while fighting a losing battle with the cramps to stay afloat. Luckily, it happened that in a nearby field a farm boy was working. When he heard the frantic cries for help, he brought the English boy to safety. The father whose son had been rescued was of course very grateful.

The next day, he went to meet the youth who had saved his son's life. As the two talked, the Englishman asked the brave lad what he planned to do with his future.

The boy answered, "Oh I suppose I'll be a farmer like my father."

The grateful father said, "Is there something else you'd rather do?"

"Oh, yes!" answered the Scottish lad.

"I've always wanted to be a doctor. But we are poor people and could never afford to pay for my education."

"Never mind that," said the Englishman. "You shall have your heart's desire and study medicine. Make your plans, and I'll take care of the costs."

So, the Scottish lad did indeed become a doctor. There is more. Some years later, in December of 1943, Winston Churchill became very ill with pneumonia while in North Africa. Word was sent to Sir Alexander Fleming, who had discovered the new wonder drug, penicillin, to come immediately. Flying in from England, Dr. Fleming administered his new drug to the ailing prime minister. In doing so, he saved Churchill's life for the second time. For it was the boy Winston Churchill whom Alexander Fleming had rescued from the swimming hole so many years before.

From The Speakers Library of Business

Year 2000, 2001, 2002