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    Stephen Hawking is an astrophysicist at Cambridge University and perhaps the most intelligent man on earth. He has advanced the general theory of relativity farther than any person since Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, Hawking is afflicted with ALS Syndrome (Lou Gehrig's disease). It will eventually take his life. He has been confined to a wheelchair for years, where he can do little more than sit and think. Hawking has lost the ability even to speak, and now he communicates by means of a computer that is operated from the tiniest movement of his fingertips.

    Quoting from an Omni magazine article: He is too weak to write, feed himself, comb his hair, fix his classes--all this must be done for him. Yet this most dependent of all men has escaped invalid status. His personality shines through the messy details of his existence.

    Hawking said that before he became ill, he had very little interest in life. He called it a "pointless existence" resulting from sheer boredom. He drank too much and did very little work. Then he learned he had ALS Syndrome and was not expected to live more than two years. The ultimate effect of that diagnosis, beyond its initial shock, was extremely positive. He claimed to have been happier after he was afflicted than before. How can that be understood? Hawking provided the answer.

    "When one's expectations are reduced to zero," he said, "one really appreciates everything that one does have." Stated another way: contentment in life is determined in part by what a person anticipates from it. To a man like Hawking who thought he would soon die quickly, everything takes on meaning--a sunrise or a walk in a park or the laughter of children. Suddenly, each small pleasure becomes precious. By contrast, those who believe life owes them a free ride are often discontent with its finest gifts. 

    James Dobson, New Man, October, 1994, p. 36.

    A young psychology student serving in the Army decided to test a theory. Drawing kitchen duty, he was given the job of passing out apricots at the end of the chow line. He asked the first few soldiers that came by, "You don't want any apricots, do you?" Ninety percent said "No." Then he tried the positive approach: "You do want apricots, don't you?" About half answered, "Uh, yeah. I'll take some." Then he tried a third test, based on the fundamental either/or selling technique. This time he asked, "One dish of apricots or two?" And in spite of the fact that soldiers don't like Army apricots, 40 percent took two dishes and 50 percent took one! 

    Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, pp. 9-10.

    In some countries you have to watch your P's and Q's. In Mexico, however, when you take a bath or shower, better watch your H's and C's as well. An "H" on the faucet means Helado -- cold. A "C" means caliente -- hot. For the unsuspecting, the result can be a bit surprising. 

    Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 3.

    John Quincy Adams held more important offices than anyone else in the history of the U.S. He served with distinction as president, senator, congressman, minister to major European powers, and participated in various capacities in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and events leading to the Civil War. Yet, at age 70, with much of that behind him, he wrote, "My whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success in anything that I ever undertook." 

    Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 233.

    Please all and you please none. 


    An interesting cartoon shows a fourth-grade boy standing toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose with his teacher. Behind them stares a blackboard covered with math problems the boy hasn't finished. With rare perception the boy says, "I'm not an underachiever, you're an overexpecter!"  

    Today in the Word, MBI, April, 1990, p. 30.

    Statistics and Stuff

    You can have a brighter child, it all depends on your expectations. Before you're tempted to say, "Not true," let me tell you about Harvard social psychologist Robert Rosenthal's classic study. All the children in one San Francisco grade school were given a standard I.Q. test at the beginning of the school year. The teachers were told the test could predict which students could be expected to have a spurt of academic and intellectual functioning. The researchers then drew names out of a hat and told the teachers that these were the children who had displayed a high potential for improvement. Naturally, the teachers thought they had been selected because of their test performance and began treating these children as special children.

    And the most amazing thing happened -- the spurters, spurted! Overall, the "late blooming" kids averaged four more I.Q. points on the second test that the other group of students. However, the gains were most dramatic in the lowest grades. First graders whose teachers expected them to advance intellectually jumped 27.4 points, and the second grade spurters increased on the average 16.5 points more than their peers. One little Latin-American child who had been classified as mentally retarded with an I.Q. of 61, scored 106 after his selection as a late bloomer.

    Isn't this impressive! It reminds me of what Eliza Doolittle says in My Fair Lady, "The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated." You see, how a child is treated has a lot to do with how that child sees herself and ultimately behaves. If a child is treated as a slow learner and you don't expect much, the child shrugs her shoulders and says, "Why should I try, nobody thinks I can do it anyway!" And she gives up. But if you look at that child as someone who has more potential than she will ever be able to develop, you will challenge that child, work with her through discouragement, and find ways to explain concepts so the child can understand. You won't mind investing time in the child because you know your investment is going to pay off! And the result? It does! So, what's the message for parents? Just this: Every child benefits from someone who believes in him, and the younger the child, the more important it is to have high expectations. You may not have an Einstein, but your child has possibilities! Expect the best and chances are, that's exactly what you'll get. 

    Kay Kuzma, Family Times, Vol. 1, No. 3, Fall, 1992, p. 1.