Who You Are Speaks Louder than
Anything You Can Say
I teach economics at UNLV three times per
week. Last Monday, at the
beginning of class, I cheerfully asked my students how their weekend had
been. One young man said that his weekend had not been so good. He had
his wisdom teeth removed. The young man then proceeded to ask me why I
always seemed to be so cheerful.
"Let me give you an example," I continued, addressing all sixty students in
the class. "In addition to teaching here at UNLV, I also teach out at the
community college in Henderson, 17 miles down the freeway from where I
live. One day a few weeks ago I drove those 17 miles to Henderson. I
exited the freeway and turned onto College Drive. I only had to drive
"'Your car breaks down and today is your lucky day?' She was puzzled. 'What do you mean?'
"'I live 17 miles from here.' I replied. 'My car could have broken down anywhere along the freeway. It didn't. Instead, it broke down in the perfect place: off the freeway, within walking distance of here. I'm still able to teach my class, and I've been able to arrange for the tow truck to meet me after class. If my car was meant to break down today, it couldn't have been arranged in a more convenient fashion.'
The secretary's eyes opened wide, and then she smiled. I smiled back and headed for class." So ended my story.
I scanned the sixty faces in my economics class at UNLV. Despite the early hour, no one seemed to be asleep. Somehow, my story had touched them. Or maybe it wasn't the story at all. In fact, it had all started with a student's observation that I was cheerful.
Deepak Chopra has quoted an Indian wise man as saying, "WHO you are speaks louder to me than anything you can say." I suppose it must be so.
by Lee Ryan Miller
A version of this story appears in Lee Ryan Miller?s book, Teaching Amidst the Neon Palm Trees. Besides authoring a number of books, Lee is also a professor of political science and economics. Visit Lee's web site at www.LeeRyanMiller.com.