Highest Duty Revisited

Now I have read “Highest Duty” by Captain Chesley Sullenberger of the January 15, 2009 Hudson River miraculous plane landing fame. His subtitle gives a clue as to why his book was of interest to me: “My Search for What Really Matters.”

As a pilot, Sullenberger knew that his responsibility to the people on board and the community below really mattered. He was able to act on this belief in a crisis because he had spent a lifetime of learning how to do it. On p. 184 (caption) he writes, “I have a clear recollection that at age five I already knew I was going to spend my life flying airplanes.” His mother and father valued learning and supported his passion to learn starting when he was very young.

What may impress me the most about Sullenberger is his grit – his determination and focus. About the process that took him from being a child with a passion in a specific field to becoming an adult who would make a clear difference by applying all he’d learned in the intervening years, he says (p.138), “I’ve derived great satisfaction from becoming good at something that’s difficult to do well.”

“Becoming good at something that’s difficult to do well:” that’s my definition of accomplishment and the foundation for building self-confidence and high self-esteem. In terms of smart young children, this means encouraging them to continually take the next steps in learning new skills and knowledge; never letting them rest on their laurels; always providing a stimulating and challenging learning environment. It’s letting them know that it’s good, but not easy, to be smart.

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One response to “Highest Duty Revisited

  1. I just love your blog! It’s so inspiring! All of your posts are great–they are all so well written, and well…smart (thought provoking and encouraging). It’s strong and gives your book a solid grounding to stand on. I especially love this post, and the earlier one, about the pilot and what he said in the interview about ideas and learning, as well as how important it is to encourage children in their learning. And I totally agree with the other comment someone made…it’s so wonderful that you are able to continue to help children (and grownups) in this way. I hope you do continue to publish, because your publishing company has such an important mission! Thank you!

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