A Story of Teenage Transformation

I learn a lot from my boys. Over the summer I learned from my 15-year-old just how transformational others can be for bringing out the best in us.

My son Marcel started working at a local restaurant. He is mopping floors, washing dishes, stocking fridges and cleaning bathrooms. Working hard at what he doesn’t love has not been a forte of his. And though I’ve already hinted at a transformation, that doesn’t mean he’s come to love disinfecting toilets.

He does, however, love his new job with an uncommon exuberance for his otherwise typical teenage persona. Why?

The people he works with. They bring out the best in him. It’s a small family-owned restaurant with staff, mainly adults, who work hard, smart, and side-by-side. They treat this 15-year-old with respect and the expectation that he contribute with as much effort as everyone else. And when the restaurant closes and they do the final cleaning up, they all indulge their common interest in listening to music (“Mom, I can’t believe we all know the same songs!”). This job and the wonderful people there have unleashed a transformation that is spilling over into other parts of his life. Though I still can’t get him to clean our bathrooms, I’m grateful for the tired, self-respecting young man who comes home after work.

An earlier blog post, The Leader in All of Us, was about the many small ways, even inadvertent ways, we can demonstrate leadership. My son is the lucky target of such leadership. The people we surround ourselves with do more than just affect our day. They can profoundly affect who we are.

May we all be surrounded by people who bring out the best in us. And may we all follow their lead.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

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