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PART 1 - Communicating (3 of 4)

Chapter 3

Authority to Influencer



Rob:


I've always considered that I have a really good sense of humour, though some may disagree with this. My humour can be a little bit sarcastic at times, much to my detriment in Grade 2.


I had a nun who was quite young, compared to the rest of them, most of whom were easily in their late 60s, if not older. This nun was approximately in her mid-20s and I actually enjoyed her teaching. She was kind and considerate. She took her time with students, particularly those who had difficulties learning the way they taught in those days. I got on well with her. Every now and then I would crack a little joke and get a laugh from her. All of a sudden, I had an audience.


One day we were given something to do. I can't remember if it was a drawing or copying writing from the board, so she could see how we were improving.


We were given the instructions. Once we had completed the task, we were to walk up past her and place our work on her desk. Our motivation to get this done was that we could then leave for lunch.


While we were doing the task, the young nun got out her violin and started practising. I believe she had just started to learn the craft. Slowly but surely, she would stroke the bow across the strings, and at one stage I remember stopping and looking up and thinking, what on earth is that noise?


I continued on finishing the task, walked up to her desk and placed my work down and as I walked past her, she said, “Mr Fogarty, what do you think of my violin playing?''


I stopped, turned my head and looked straight at her and said, “Sounds like you're strangling a cat.”


She swiftly swung the violin bow down across my legs….. the strings sliced into my calves just like a razor.


I don't think she hit me in anger, more like, don't be cheeky!


I stood, stunned, with blood pouring down my legs, into my socks, seeping into my shoes. It didn't really hurt so much; it did sting though.


I thought, well, you asked me a question! I'll give you the truth.


If you didn't like it, then that's not my problem.


To her credit, she quickly got the first aid kit to fix my legs. Stopped the bleeding and patched me up.


I always liked her as a teacher and we often referred to the strangled cat. My responses to her questions from then on were a little less, ‘tongue in cheek’.


Lesson learnt…...


Many more lessons were to follow, and although authority figures like teachers are no longer ‘allowed’ to hit children, it is important to note that words and actions other than hitting, have the same if not more influence on children. They become unforgettable memories that last a lifetime.


Authority figures such as teachers and their assistants will have influenced you and now your children as they go through the same process of an authority figure influencing their lives. Choosing where and why your children go to a certain school is such a big decision. Many parents we work with struggle with this throughout the different stages of their children's schooling life. Our daughter went to 7 schools over the 12 years of her lower and upper school education. To many, this would be frightening, though, to her, she sees it as having been given an opportunity to learn and grow with a diverse mix of people. Change is something she is comfortable with, and we contribute this type of mindset to her various schooling influencers, whether that was the different types of children that came and went through her life or the multiple types of authority figures and influencers she has learnt from. These were both good, great and even some bad.


Everyone we have ever asked, “Who is your biggest influencer?”, will respond with a favourite teacher at school, an authority figure turned influencer.


In Grade 6, Mr Clark, my teacher, was always active. He loved sport. He was probably more of a life coach than an actual teacher for me, a real influencer. He was fair. He was kind. He was funny. After what I'm about to tell you, you may question why I liked him.


Wednesday was sports day at school, and we regularly, during the football season, would make up two teams from two different classes.


One day while playing, the team I was in was beating the other team quite soundly.


Mr Clark was the umpire, as he regularly was. The ball was passed to me on the wing. I turned and ran. There was no one in front of me. I ran and bounced the ball a couple of times. The goals were open in front of me. I thought to myself, here's my opportunity to kick a goal.


All of a sudden, my teammates were yelling at me to kick the ball.


I'm thinking, there's no one near me. I don't understand. The only person I saw close to me was Mr Clark.


For reasons only he knows, he decided at that moment to help the other team out just a little. He grabbed me by the back of my jumper and pulled me backwards, just as I kicked the ball.


I hit my head very hard on the ground and was knocked out cold.


I came to, shortly after, with Mr Clark making sure that I was alright, and that my thick head hadn't been overly damaged.

I was taken home to be taken care of, by my mum and later that evening, Mr Clark came around to make sure that I was okay. Later that same year, a group of us were taken by Mr Clark to a scout area that he used to run on weekends. We were there to do a cleanup. We ran around tidying up all loose branches, sweeping, raking, and shovelling. Making sure the place was neat and tidy.


That evening, we were all camping there. Bonfire ablaze, food cooking.


It was a great experience. I'd never had that sort of thing, other than maybe through the Yacht Club, on long weekends when we went away.


Towards the end of that evening, Mr Clark said, “Who would like a coffee?”


The other students said, yeah, we'll have one.


I said, “No! I don't like the smell of it. I don't know how people drink it.”


He jokingly said, “Come on, you need to try everything in life.”


A couple of the boys grabbed me, Mr Clark approached with a tube of Nescafe, which had the milk mixed in with it.


They squirted some into my mouth and instantly felt a tingling on my tongue. A strange tingling. It was getting stronger and stronger, and I could feel my tongue swelling in my mouth.


Mr Clark had noticed this straight away. He picked me up with a couple of the other boys, they quickly rushed to his vehicle, threw me into the backseat and sped off down the road, trailer in tow.


We arrived at Royal Perth Hospital some 20 minutes later and raced into the emergency area.


By this time, my tongue was fully swollen, and breathing had become very difficult. I was feeling quite unwell.

Yes, I am allergic to coffee!


I know this would devastate many people not being able to have their morning, late morning, lunchtime and evening coffees.

But for me, this was life-threatening, and thanks to Mr Clark, I now knew this.


Although these two incidents occurred on his watch, he was a wonderful teacher and influential in the way I am living my life.

His philosophy was, do what makes you happy in life. A message I remind myself of daily.


Fun Activity


Everyone in your life will be an influencer of sorts, authority figure or not.


Setting boundaries will be the key.


An adult without boundaries will be problematic to society so demonstrating boundaries from the get-go with children will help, with a healthy network of people who will influence your family.


The way we listen, speak and show our community who we are and what we stand for, will determine the success of the village upbringing.


Using the VAK[1] types of learning and Love Languages® to acknowledge who and what type of communicators are influencing you or your family’s life right now.


TIP: look for what is missing.


• Who is in your village?

• What type of communicator are they?


Parents

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Spouses

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Grandparents

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Aunties

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Uncles

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Cousins

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School Teachers

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Friends

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Social Clubs

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Mentors

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Coaches

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Cheerleaders

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[1] VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic Learning Styles)


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