Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Life Long Learning Lesson From a Man with a Third Grade Education

At 6 p.m. every evening, the door to my father’s bar would open, and in would walk John Sirera.

Everyone called him "Pancho."

"Pancho" came to America from Spain to work in the coal mines. He spoke in very broken English. But the one phrase, he always repeated is something I will never forget.

I will not forget it because those words were packed with wisdom and truth.

From the time I was in eighth grade, until I graduated from college, Pancho’s words were ingrained in my very being.

"You don’ (pronounced with a long "o") know nottin."

Pancho was a prophet.

My education extends many hours and courses beyond my Master’s degree. It extends through16 years in the corporate world and 21 years of owning a training and speaking business. It expends through three grown children and 11 grand kids.

Through all that, the one lesson I have truly learned is that Pancho was right.

I learned a lot of lessons about life and leadership and business from my experiences growing up in a coal mining town and actually working in a coal mine.

And still with the immediate obsolescence of technology, the globalization of information, and the constant demands to remain competitive, I realize "I don’ know nottin’."

I grew up in a predominantly Polish town. My Polish vocabulary is about 10 words. I deeply regret that I resisted learning the language of my parents and grandparents.

In college, I took two years of German. My German vocabulary is about 15 words.

Pancho’s words are ringing in my ears.


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