A partially deaf boy came home from school one day carrying a note from officials at the school. The note suggested that the parents take the boy out of school, claiming that he was "too stupid to learn."
The boy's mother read the note and said, "My son Tom isn't 'too stupid to learn.' I'll teach him myself." And so she did.
When Tom died many years later, the people of the United States of America paid tribute to him by turning off the nation's lights for one full minute. You see, this Tom had invented the light bulb--and not only that, but also motion pictures and the record player. In all, Thomas Edison had more than one thousand patents to his credit.
--God's Little Devotional Book for Moms
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"My mother was the making of me. She was so true and so sure of me, I felt that I had someone to live for--someone I must not disappoint. The memory of my mother will always be a blessing to me."
--Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)
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When he was a teenager, Jim worked for a grocer in Hamilton, Missouri. He liked the work and had plans to make a career of it. One night he came home and proudly told his family about his sly employer. The grocer had a practice of mixing low quality coffee with the expensive brand and thus increasing his profit. Jim laughed as he told the story at the supper table.
His father didn't see anything funny about the practice. "Tell me," he said, "if the grocer found someone palming off an inferior article on him for the price of the best, do you think he would think they were just being sly, and laugh about it?"
Jim could see his father was disappointed in him. "I guess not," he replied. "I guess I just didn't think about it that way."
Jim's father instructed him to go to the grocer the next day and collect whatever money was due him and tell the grocer he wouldn't be working for him any longer. Jobs were not plentiful in Hamilton, but Jim's father would rather his son be unemployed than associated with a crooked businessman.
J.C. Penny came that close to becoming a grocer. Instead he founded the retail chain that still bears his name. He shares the secret of his success in the title of his autobiography: Fifty Years with the Golden Rule.
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One father confessed that he hadn't realized how dishonest he'd been with his son until he learned a hard lesson. His son received a very low grade in English. In spite of scoldings and extra study, it seemed the boy simply could not bring up his grade. One day he said to his father, "I guess when you went to school you got all A's in English."
"What makes you say that?" the father asked.
"Well, if you didn't do well," said the son, "you wouldn't scold me the way you do."
The way he had corrected his son was a misrepresentation of the truth. "No, the fact is that I had a really hard time with English," the father replied. "Especially spelling."
From that moment on the boy did better, freed from the impression that he was inferior and a failure. Seeing that his dad had the same problems, but succeeded, gave him hope.
Originally published in Activated Magazine. Used with permission.