Friday, April 11, 2014

The Guys at The Conference

Hey Guys:

I don't know if you read my blog or not, but if you do, I'd like to apologize, just a little bit for our brief chat yesterday. I'm sitting here and trying to figure out which college you said you attended, but I think it was Fanshaw. We met just as I was getting ready to leave the conference site, which was just after I had presented with my team, Chanelle and Donna, on the topic of 'Determined Indifference'. A session which you had attended.

You stopped and told me that you were students and that you really liked one of my books, 'Power Tools' - one of you even said it was one of the best books he'd ever read. You joked and said that I was kind of like royalty down at the college, another said something about a 'rock star' we all laughed. It was nice. I made a silly joke and then we were all on our way.

In moments like that, I often don't do or say what I'd really like to do or say. I have always been a little shy about praise or notice, it wasn't something I grew up with or have grown used to. As a result, I get flustered and use humour as a way out of it. I would have liked to have said something much different.

I would have liked to have told you that your impulse to stop and give someone positive feedback is wonderful. What's even more wonderful is that you did it. You had the courage to be positive publicly. So many compliments, so much praise remains unspoken. Almost all positive feedback is left unsaid. We think these things, we, many times, do not move from thought to action. Keep fresh your ability to act on positive thoughts and impulses. One of the things I'm sure you are learning is about the positive approach ... well, you all demonstrated that in one fell swoop.

More than that, I would have told you that you have chosen a field in which there are far fewer men than women. I know when I chose to work with people with disabilities there were those who thought that 'caring' was the job of women - that men didn't do 'that kind of thing'. They couldn't be more wrong. This is a field that needs people who have kindness, compassion and a drive for social justice. I can think of many men who fit that description. Good on you for your choice. Good on you for following your own path. It's a path that I have walked, and then rolled, for over forty years. Forty very good years.

I also would have told you that what you said really mattered to me. I like to know that my work has made a difference, that my writing is being read. It makes it all matter.

So, guys, I'm sorry.

I should have said those things, and more, but didn't.

Hope you enjoyed the conference, hope you had lots to talk about on the way home. Glad to have met you all. Really!


Anonymous said...

Whether your friends at Fanshaw (or wherever they were from) see this or not, I hope that everyone who has affirmed you and your work takes it personally!!!

Tom R. said...

When I met you in Portland, OR years ago, you were so kind and generous with your time even though you were busy and preoccupied with your presentation. It really meant a lot to me that you were willing to chat for a few minutes no matter how mundane the conversation was.

liebjabberings said...

I tell people - usually when they have been very deprecating about receiving a compliment (from me or someone else) - that the ONLY response to a compliment is "Thank you."

Period. No embellishments. No, "It was nothing, really." No, "You could have done the same." In other words, no trying to turn it down.

Enjoy the compliment. Bask in it. Pay it forward. Generate some yourself - that's what we should all do, not with fake game-playing compliments, but with real ones.

It makes the world a much better place.

By the way, Dave - you're awesome.


Anonymous said...

(To liebjabberings) People need to learn to accept the recipient of a compliment just saying "thank you" for that to work though. For many compliment givers a thankyou isnt enough and the recipient gets seen in a bad light because theyre not playing the "no really it was nothing, no really I'm rubbish" game. I've had far more bad experiences from accepting compliments/praise than trying to turn them down and thats really confusing. Feeling Entitled to accept compliments or praise really bothers a lot of the people offering those things so sometimes playing stupid social dancey games is forced on us.

Cassidy said...

I am one of the students from Fanshawe who attended the conference. We were excited to hear you speak from the first time we saw your name on the list of presenters. We all are graduating in two weeks so to end our college experience by going to the conference and hearing you speak, we will be forever grateful. Your work is brought up by many of our professors constantly in school. So yes, we all joke around about how "famous" you are. We will be bragging to our classmates on Monday. I would just like to thank you for speaking at the conference, as the opportunity to be there as a student who is just entering the field, it was truly an honour. From all the Fanshawe students who attended: THANK YOU!

krlr said...

I think you are fabulous too but doubt I'd come up with anything remotely coherent in person so will take the time to tell you now. :)

Anonymous said...

I am a student who listened to you at the conference. I appreciate your effort you put into enrich the lives of the people. I salute your passion and it was inspiring. The incidences you shared have influenced my philosophy for working in this field. Thank you. I wish you all the best in all your endeavors ahead.

William Charlton said...

I am one of the students who talked to you while you were leaving.Thank you for that. I am also the one who brought up your book "Power Tools" and I truly meant that it was one of my favourite books. Your work has shaped how I approach the way I support people who i care for. I would also like to thank you for your words of encouragment. Also I am speaking on behalf of the other two who were with me and saying thank you for giving us the time of day. It was an honour hearing Fanshawe royalty speak so highly of not only us but the college a well.

Mark Benner said...

As a teacher of "The Guys at the Conference" and other students who saw your presentation, I was so pleased that they were able to hear you speak in person. Know that your work is often shared by professors here and that your wisdom and courage to speak out on behalf of persons with disabilities is admired and respected. The next generation will carry your messages! Thanks David and so great to see you again.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hey Mark, Hey 'guys at the conference' ... thanks for the comments here and the individual emails. I wish you all well as you graduate ... and Mark, us old timers will just keep on keeping on.