“If you never change your mind, why have one?”

Edward de Bono, teacher and author

Basic Drawing Class, Ohio University, 1976

After a long and spirited discussion on the necessity of grades versus the freedom of expression with no judgement, our instructor decided we should take a vote. He gave us the opportunity to receive an A the first day of class before we even drew our first picture. Our other option was business as usual, we would be given a letter grade on each project evaluated by him.

Time to vote.

We filled out our ballots, folded them neatly, and passed them forward. As the instructor read each vote, one of the students recorded and announced the score as the game unfolded. There was no clear winner in the beginning or midway through the action. It came down to the final vote. Pausing for dramatic effect before reading the tie breaker, the instructor smiled.

The winner, by one vote was business as usual – we would all be graded A,B,C,D,and F.

I guess you could argue that it was me who cast the winning vote. I wanted the traditional evaluation and grade for each drawing I finished.

Now, thirty-nine years later, I want to change my vote.

Not because I finished that Drawing Class with a grade of C+ which, by my own judgement, was very generous. But because I discovered a book.

While working as a Educational Assistant in my local high school. The art teacher caught me copying this quote posted on the door to her classroom.

“Mistakes can be like ice.

If we resist them, we may keep on slipping into a posture of defeat.

If we include mistakes in our definition of performance, we are likely to glide through them and appreciate the beauty of the longer run .”

I tracked down the authors of the quote and a copy of their book, The Art of Possibility.

Benjamin Zander, who co-wrote the book with his wife, is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and teacher at the New England Conservatory. On the first day of each school year he delightfully tells his students that everyone gets a A. But there is one catch.  Mr. Zander tells his class that within the next two weeks they are to deliver to him a letter explaining everything they did to earn that A. The letter is to be dated the following Spring, the day the school year ends.

For example, the student will write, “… I wrote three research papers, read twelve books, and practiced the violin two hours a day…” Not I hoped to or I will try, but I did!

Mr. Zander’s bottom line is, if you treat someone like an A, then they become a A.


Try this experiment on yourself. Start calling yourself a “A” student playing and learning in the game of life.

Treat everyone you meet like an “A” too.

I think you’ll enjoy the results.






“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Norman Vincent Peale, author and minister

“Would you please take a picture of me?”

The old timer didn’t seem to mind climbing out of his truck after I flagged him down. His smile assured me there would be no problem.

I stood beside a large sign carved in the shape of Ohio. It read,



On Wednesday, December 29, 1993 I traveled south on Interstate 71, fifty miles from my home in Columbus. Turning onto State Route 72 I arrived in the tiny village of Bowersville.

It was just after 11A.M. Miles away in New York City, at the Marble Collegiate Church, funeral services were just beginning for Dr. Peale, author of the classic bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking. He had died on Christmas Eve. Unable to make the trip to New York, I had come to Bowersville. In my own way, I was there to pay respect to a humble man who had changed my life.

It took less than a minute to travel along State Route 72 from the historical marker to the other end of town where an identical sign was located. The village population was 350. A tiny post office shared half a building with Gill’s Diner. Nearby was a volunteer fire station, gas station, and senior center. On one edge of town was a feed mill. On the other an elementary school. The village had three churches. Several old and stately looking brick buildings stood boarded up. A cluster of houses completed the setting. With directions from a waitress, I was soon standing in front of the house where Norman Vincent Peale was born.

Trouble finds a doorway into everyone’s life. Financial setbacks, divorce, depression, and a bunch of other calamities have all been my companions.  But traveling on that same road were books and sermons by Dr. Peale. During the difficult times, I found hope, comfort, and encouragement in his words.

“Empty pockets never held anyone back.

Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”

“Imagination is the true magic carpet.”

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things.

When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

I met him twice. Among my prize possessions is a picture of the two of us shaking hands. As I stood gazing at the place where the incredible life of Dr. Peale began, I whispered a prayer of gratitude for the gift of his ministry.

God has big ideas in little beginnings. We are all reminded of that each year when we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus. The tiny village of Bethlehem gave the world its greatest gift and from the tiny village of Bowersville, God added the gift of Norman Vincent Peale.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above…”

James 1:17

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