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By December 22, 2015March 6th, 2021Culture, Humility, Philosophy

Monday morning quarterbacking is plain foolish. Because, there’s no way you can take into account everything that influences a decision unless you’re experiencing it from within. Be it a choice to run or pass; argue or apologize; say this instead of that; buy or sell; fight or flee; or whatever it may be, time and distance do not so much increase wisdom or even perspective, but rather expose the conceit of hindsight.

For example, too often I reflect on my high school years and wish I would have done something differently. (It is disturbing how formative and influential those four years of life were.)

In attempts to vicariously redo or undo some of those wrongs, I offered my kids what I believed to be sage, experiential advice. Of course, as all parents learn neither life nor parenting work that way. The benefits of considering future consequences, for instance, or value of individuality and self-confidence, will forever be trumped by the attraction of carpe diem and the desire to be popular and blend.

If only we knew then what we know now? For sure we all have things we should’ve done differently, but whether we would’ve is unlikely. Still, maybe it will at least be cathartic to share with others what you should’ve done differently to produce better results at the time and later in life. I’ll go first:

  • Respectfully, call out teachers who spew indoctrinating bullshit. Remind them they are entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts.
  • Always volunteer an answer to the first question you know before the teacher calls on you.
  • Ask “Why?” more often – to understand why things are taught, relevant or worth remembering.
  • Be individual and original rather than trying to copy others.
  • Opt for more family time instead of wasting time at lame parties.
  • Do not stand idle or partake in bullying. Tell an adult when it occurs – and remind them they would consider such aggression to be “harassment” and “assault” if it happened to them.
  • Speak up more often. Show that being quiet didn’t mean I had nothing to say.

And this final, humbling reflection: For many of us our high school years were possessed by insecurity, which we attempted to conceal with conceit. Growing older we’re possessed by insecurity of other sorts, which we attempt to embrace with humility. It’s a shame our young and old selves couldn’t have met some time in the middle.


  • Gary says:

    I will share this with my students.

  • Jimbo says:

    Awesome thoughts! You are very insightful….always have been!

  • Tracy Huddleson says:

    Amen to all that! I’d add: letting special teachers know they’re appreciated – including later in life, when you’ll appreciate more than ever those who noticed you and tried to draw out your talents during a time when self confidence is fragile.

  • Patti Rea Flakne says:

    Since we went to the same high school, you have me curious as to which teacher(s) spewed! I work in a high school now which brings back many memories of my own experiences. I could say so much to those students who are tuned out and say that they don’t care about their education, but I know they wouldn’t listen or get it because of their lack of experience in the real world and their inability to see the big picture, which gets bigger by the day, the older we get! Very insightful. Thanks to Gary for sharing it!

    • stuart says:

      You’re on to something: “Big-picture Thinking” should be a mandatory course for high school students as well as for future teachers.

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