Tag Archives: learning from experience

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.

Book sale in progress

Orders for “Grandma Says It’s Good to Be Smart” are coming in at the post office box on the “Contact Ellie Books” page of this blog. Since Thanksgiving nearly 200 of the 300 copies have sold. Comments have been gratifying. Here’s one: “I wanted to let you know how much I love your book! It’s an absolute delight! You and the illustrator were clearly on the same wavelength.  I love the part where grandma says I can be anything I want…and I say I want to be a horse — and you turn the page to see the wonderful trio of horses. Fabulous. And it’s a thrill to see your name on the front cover.  Congratulations!”

Here’s another: “The book is wonderful and we can hardly wait to share it with our California grandson and put one on the shelf of our baby Madison grandson. But I need more to share with friends who have curious book-loving youngsters. Thank you for continuing to give to the world of young minds in your very special way. Our whole family is going to LOVE this book!”

Highest Duty

I haven’t yet read Chesley Sullenberger’s book, Highest Duty, but I was inspired by Jeffrey Brown’s interview with the pilot-author on The Lehrer Report on October 23. Hero? To those whose lives he saved by landing his flight from La Guardia on the Hudson River on January 15, the answer is yes. To citizens across the country, the answer is yes. But why was he able to perform this incredible feat?

Sullenberger is smart and he isn’t afraid to say so. “I care about ideas,” he says. “I never stop learning; never stop growing…. A smart person learns from his own and others’ experiences.” His mother raised him to value learning. This is the kind of model I want our children and grandchildren to hear, loud and clear. May today’s mothers, like Sullenberger’s mother, be able to reinforce, over and over, that learning is cool. Being smart is cool! Being smart should be every child’s life-long goal.