Stick to Your Guns. Unless Your Wrong.

As I get older, I can tell that I am getting more forgetful. It’s come to the point where I have to make lists to remind myself to check previous lists.

Don’t even get me started about Post-it Notes. My budget for those colored pre-cut scraps of paper has tripled in the last 2 years.

By the way, who was the genius who decided consumers would pay for these scraps of paper?

We like to brag on ourselves for sending people to the moon, but the Post-it Note marketing department are the real heroes.

While my memory continues to fade on a day-to-day level, it seems to get more focused on remembering situations from my past.

I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I just “think” I remember my past. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me as I age. Maybe I am blinded by the bright light of death as I head towards it.

In my present job I have the honor of making decisions.

Or the burden.

I can’t decide which.

Sure it sounds fun. And sometime it is. Other times, not so much.

When I find myself in a difficult spot, I always remember a lesson my elementary principal taught me.

This conversation took place over 30 years ago, but somehow it seems like just yesterday.

But it didn’t.

If it had taken place yesterday, odds are I would have forgotten it. Unless I had written it down on a list or Post-it Note.

My life was forever affected because our 6th grade teacher had a doctor’s appointment.

She had to leave school 30 minutes early, so the principal subbed for her.

I remember this fact very clearly. Because when the principal walked into our classroom he was complaining about teachers being absent and how they should schedule appointments for after school.

The one thing that always struck me about him was his height. He was a tall man. Really tall.

To a 6th grader he seemed 10 feet tall. But everything seems bigger to a kid (if you don’t believe me go back to your elementary school and I guarantee that you will feel like a giant).

In fact he was about 6 feet tall, with a deep voice, and a commanding presence.

As he came in to our class, he started asking questions.

I don’t remember what he asked specifically, but I do recall what happened when it was my turn to answer.

I gave him what I believed to be the correct answer. And more importantly, I answered quickly. He was not known to have a great deal of patience.

He was known to have a large wooden paddle that hung on the wall behind his desk.

A tall man with a paddle. I sensed there wasn’t a need to bother him any longer than absolutely necessary.

As soon as I answered, he said “Are you sure?”

And that’s when it happened.

Even though I thought my answer was correct, I made the mistake of changing it. That is what I call… a bad idea.

Now he had me right where he wanted.

I gave him a second answer. My luck was going from bad to worse. And his patience was going from little to none.

He stood up and walked over to my desk. I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to end well. For me.

It was at that point he taught me a lesson. Which is a lot better than a paddling.

He said “Stick to your guns.”

Being a slow-witted slightly frightened 6th grade boy who was on the verge of wetting his pants, I had no idea what this meant.

He must have sensed this from my glazed-over slightly frightened look on my face. Or maybe it was how I had tightly crossed my legs so I didn’t make a mess on the floor.

For some reason, he seemed more patient than usual.

He took his time and explained this to me.

Always go with your first answer, right or wrong. Don’t question yourself, even when others do.

Stick to your guns.

Then it made sense. I was relieved (but not on myself… that would have been awkward for me and the janitor).

Then he prefaced his lesson.

Always stick to your guns. Always go with your gut. Your first answer is usually right.

But be open to changing your mind as you gain more information.

So when I find myself in a difficult situation, I always remember the day my elementary principal taught me a lesson about decision making.

Stick to your guns, but don’t be afraid to change your mind.

This has served me relatively well over the years. I am thankful for both his thoughts and patience on that particular day.

Most of all, I am thankful the janitor didn’t have to get involved.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.