By Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.
From time to time I read the story of Helen Keller’s life because it is such an inspiration to me. In fact, whenever I think life is hard, all I have to do is review her story and then I realize that I have never really even come close to having a problem!
You may have read Helen Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life. Or, you may be familiar with the movie, Miracle Worker, starring Ann Bancroft and Patty Duke. Miss Bancroft played the part of Anne Sullivan, the teacher who taught the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate. Patty Duke, who played Helen, won an Oscar for her performance in that great 1962 screenplay. Although the play has been produced many times on both stage and film, in my opinion the 1962 production was the best. It is timeless in its message for both young and old, alike. My own grandchildren have been fascinated when watching it and learning from the struggles of the life and times of Helen Keller.
Often, however, I think we overlook the real heroine in this story. Certainly Helen Keller had to overcome many obstacles and each one was a very difficult challenge. And, no one would deny that her success in life is a miracle in itself, yet none of that would have happened had it not been for Anne Sullivan, Helen’s teacher and real miracle-worker. Anne Sullivan’s name may not be as well-known as Helen’s but she had to overcome all of Helen’s handicaps, too, in order to teach her how to understand the concept of words and how to communicate correctly.
Helen was a very difficult case. Her parents had grown so accustomed to her handicaps and challenges that they had gotten “soft” in dealing with her. When the task became too difficult, they hired Anne to work with their beloved daughter. Miss Sullivan was up to the challenge and approached Helen with “tough love” rather than sympathy. It was a frustrating and daily battle. Finally there was a breakthrough and Helen began to grow in her communication skills. Eventually she even went on to college.
Though I am not that familiar with everything that happened in Anne Sullivan’s life, I do know that she was indeed a miracle worker. I don’t know if she ever had a miracle in her own life, but at some point she must have decided that she would become a miracle for someone else. And, that is the point of this Tip. Most of us will probably live our entire life without experiencing what we would consider a “supernatural miracle” like the one Helen Keller experienced. Yet, again, Helen did not experience it because it came from within herself; it was really a gift given to her by Anne Sullivan. Anne chose to be a miracle worker in Helen’s life. And, all of us can make that choice on a daily basis, too.
I cannot tell you how many people I run into who are depressed, down, discouraged or hurting. And, it only takes a few minutes of kindness and encouragement to provide them with a small miracle in their life. In fact, just the other day I was pulling through a drive-thru in the early morning. I asked the girl who waited on me, “Has anyone thanked you for coming to work this early?” She didn’t know what to say! She even asked what I was talking about. I said, “Since it is so early in the morning, I don’t know if anyone has thanked you for coming to work. I wouldn’t be able to get this breakfast if you weren’t here to make it for me, so I wanted to thank you.” I wish you could have seen the look in her eyes! It was as though I was the only person in the world who really understood what she was going through. It was like I gave her a miracle, and that is what I think life is all about.
This week, be on the lookout for someone who could use an encouraging word or an act of kindness. Rather than looking to receive your own miracle, why not look for ways to become a miracle for someone else? If you stop and think about it, that is a powerful position to assume and anyone can do it! It will make a great deal of difference for them and I am 100% sure it will make a great deal of difference to you as well!
Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.
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