Tuesday, June 14, 2011


**** This week I will be writing about four life experiences that had a huge impact on my life. ****

Do we fully realize the power of our actions? This story embodies the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.”

I taught middle school math for seven years before heading off to become an academic counselor at the college level. During these seven years, I was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor at my middle school. His name was Johnny Cabaniss.

When I first arrived at Bay Minette Middle School, Coach Cabaniss was the assistant principal. By the time I left, he was the principal. He is now the principal at Baldwin County High School.

For some reason, Coach Cabaniss took me under his wing from the time I arrived at BMMS until the time I left. He had unwavering support for me and taught me many lessons that I’ll never forget. One such lesson occurred the day before school started one of my last years at BMMS.

As any educator can attest, the days leading up to the start of school are exciting and stressful at the same time. Much organization is needed to prepare classrooms and be ready for the moment when a new crop of students come through the door.

This particular afternoon, I had been working all day to have my room ready. The assistant principal at the time was in charge of textbooks and the textbooks should have been in our rooms at least a week earlier. Well, we had just received our books that morning and all of the teachers were stressed trying to write names in the books and have them prepared for the students.

Coach Cabaniss came by my room that afternoon just to check on me and determine how things were coming along. The minute he walked in, I unloaded on him. I complained, fussed, and generally lamented the process of distributing textbooks. I was definitely out of line in acting this way toward my principal, but I was just out of patience. Have you ever had those moments where you say things to almost “pick” a fight? That’s where I was at that moment.

I think I actually wanted to have an argument with Coach Cabaniss. At the very least, I wanted a reaction. But, thankfully, he didn’t take the bait.

What Coach Cabaniss did next was something that I’ll never forget.

Without so much as a word of condemnation toward my attitude, Coach Cabaniss simply sat down and started helping me with my textbooks. This subtle gesture meant more to me than any advice or words that Coach could have given to me at that time.

Coach Cabaniss’ actions that day entrenched my loyalty for him. This was not some premeditated action on his part. This was, simply, him responding to my need at that moment. What a lesson he taught me that day.

Are we living intentionally today? Are we focused on the moment and responding to what needs to be done right now? My challenge for you and myself today is to seek out teachable moments like these. Of course, to be a man or woman of action (not just words) we must be internally prepared to respond in a proper manner when moments like this arrive.

Question: What subtle action by another person impacted you? Please post comments below.

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