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Leadership from a different perspective – a story by e-mail from Duncan Borland

Naked Leader Week – 117 (w/c Monday 15th August 2005)

Leadership from a different perspective – a story by e-mail from Duncan Borland

 The response to nlweek 113 was overwhelming. The true story of the girl who helped a boy after he was bullied, and as a result causing him not to commit suicide struck a chord with many of you.

Monday 18th July was a truly inspiring day for all of us at Naked Leader as we read your favourite stories, sent from all over the world.

We took a vote and chose this one to send out, as it is one that we can all do – whether we are in a school, in a team, with our friends, or like I did after receiving it, with our neighbours.

When we read a story like this, it is so easy to be cynical; it is so much more powerful to take action.

With love, hope and warmest best wishes to you, wherever you are




One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other

students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between

each name.

 Then she asked them to think of the nicest thing they could say about

each of their classmates and write it down.

 It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment,

and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

 That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a

separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about

that individual.

 On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire

class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I

meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,”

were most of the comments.

 No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if

they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t


 The exercise had accomplished its purpose.

 The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of

students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his

teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen

a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so


 The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him

took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless

the coffin.

 As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up

to her.

 “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: “yes.”

 Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”

 After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a

luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to

speak with his teacher.

 “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of

his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you

might recognize it.”

 Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook

paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.

 The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which

she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said

about him.

 “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see,

Mark treasured it.”

 All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled

rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top

drawer of my desk at home.”

 Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

 “I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary.”

 Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her

wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this

with me at all times,” Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she

continued: “I think we all saved our lists.”

 That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark

and for all his friends who would never see him again.

 The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life

will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

 So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special

and important.

 Tell them, before it is too late.


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