Wednesday, May 3, 2017

40 Years in the Making

My MBA story (took me forty years to assimilate):

I thought I was a pretty good writer in Mrs. Lowry's senior English class. I was creative, eclectic, had a stylish vocabulary, wrote with flair, comfortable in stream of consciousness rhetoric, liked to argue, well, what can I say, I was simply an artistic wordsmith. I knew it. Heck, everybody knew it! However, to my chagrin, I never got more than a 76 from her on any of my themes. I spent a lot of time vexed with her appreciation of my skills; she simply didn't recognize genuine talent. The next year at Vanderbilt, I ended up in Honors English; heck, almost all the MBA guys did; we had great prep in English.... in my first semester, I got nothing but A's on all my essays. By Christmastime, I was still irritated and decided to go see Mrs. Lowry; one morning I drove out West End and dropped in between classes and approached her, dropped my graded themes on her desk and insinuated "whadda ya think about these apples?" Well, she took a quick glance at puffed up me and those themes, promptly got up and came around to me, said "Class, you remember Dudley from last year, look at these wonderful essays he's written, all A's, I'm so proud of him" and gave me a big hug in front of everybody. Needless to say, I instantly lost my frustration & melted, no longer aggravated, all smiles, realized she'd totally finessed me. Game over, I hustled out the door and beat a hasty retreat with my themes.
Fast forward to 45 years later when I reconnected with one of my classmates (not one of the brilliant classmates whose work I readily acknowledged as superior to mine, but, how should I say it, one whose star I assessed in lesser lumens than mine.) We started corresponding with each other a couple times a month about various and sundry issues of the day. Soon I was saying, "wow, this guy's sensational --- really gifted --- very focused, tight script, wonderful vocabulary, parses every phrase perfectly, grasps issues soundly, perceptive thinker, cogent scribe, innately sensitive, really expresses himself robustly; okay, a lot better than me! What a jolt??? Took me four decades to realize, i.e., accept that there were a lot of guys in our class that were far better writers than me, and I'd been tilting at windmills for decades. No wonder I only got 76s; my stuff didn't measure up to the competition or Mrs. Lowry's expectations. I was just so egocentric and determined, I never even considered that maybe Mrs. Lowry was RIGHT... or worse, that I was wrong. Suffice it to say, I've had a much deeper appreciation of my MBA teachers since my discovery.
Corollary insight: Marriage has given me intuitions I never before possessed, made me realize that I'm frequently, usually, almost always WRONG, rarely correct ... AND, I'm a happier man because of this realization!!!! No doubt about it!!!!

submitted by Dudley Warner '61