Labor Day Special: Lesson From A School Bus Stop

How Far Can You See?


Everyday life is full of great lessons.

I was running a little behind getting out of my neighborhood a few mornings ago.  Normally I’m long gone by the time school busses make their rounds.  On this morning, I had to wait while a bus made a pick up, and I saw something happen that made me think of two words…Critical Doer.

When the bus stopped, I noticed the driver get out and went to the back of the bus.  As she opened the back door from the outside and began operating a lift, I realized a handicapped child was the passenger.

I watched as the little girl’s father pushed her wheelchair up the incline of the driveway and worked with the driver to precisely place her chair on the ramp.  With the wheelchair now facing the father as the driver raised the ramp, the look on the faces of both the little girl and the father is one I’ll never forget.

As a father with a daughter, I can certainly empathize with the look I saw on the father’s face.  The look conveyed the concern of a man who treasures the role of being a protective father for his precious daughter, but the look also conveyed a sense of enormous pride that his daughter’s spirit was bright and vibrant…willing and ready to take on the challenge of school despite her challenges.

The look on the little girl’s face conveyed the beauty of self-assurance that can’t be described in words.  Her look gave reassurance to her father that she was okay, all the while beaming with pride that she had the ability to do something that matters.  I have to admit…I may have “glistened” from my eyes for a moment at the love and pride I saw between father and daughter in that brief moment.

As I continued my drive, I couldn’t help but think about what I’d seen.  How easy it would be to let the question of what she couldn’t do be the question that guides her thinking.  But on this day, I saw a Critical Doer who flipped that question on its head and let “what can I do” be the moral compass that guides her to a life of fulfillment.

Many times we let challenges make us just plain critical rather than being critical thinkers.  The simplicity of looking at any situation and asking what can I do…a positive statement based upon capability…versus what I can’t do…a negative statement based upon limitation…is often taken for granted but it’s the key to turning thinking into action.

Our challenge is to realize the greatest limitations we face are the ones we place upon ourselves.  How tragic it is when our thinking is so cynical and negative that we’re unable to see the things we can do.  Just as tragic is when we juxtapose our own fears onto those we influence…and because of that influence, a doer becomes a cynic

The little girl I saw had been dealt some tough cards physically…they were not her choice…but she was bigger than her circumstances and achieving at the level of fulfillment.  I’d also like to think it was from a little help from her dad whose faith in her was stronger than his fear for her.

Your challenge on this Labor Day is to reflect on how you approach life and work.  Make the positive critical thinking question of what can I do your moral compass and watch your output soar.  There’s no better time than a day that celebrates the mind and muscle of a great nation whose best history is still to be written.  That’s what a Critical Doer would…do!

Yes indeed…everyday life is full of great lessons.  It all depends upon how far you can see.


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Updated: September 7, 2015 — 10:52 am