First things first, you might be wondering — “why is there a photograph of Morgan Freeman at the top of my screen?” No, I was not taught science by Morgan Freeman, but I was taught by a teacher named Mr. Freeman who actually looked almost exactly like Morgan Freeman. Not only did he look like Morgan Freeman and have the same last name, his voice also sounded incredibly similar.
So yes, in a way I did feel like Morgan Freeman taught my 8th grade science class. I thought it was important to point this out so you can get the full impact of Mr. Freeman’s lesson since you now know it came from someone that for all intensive purposes was Morgan Freeman.
Now for the lesson.
If you can remember 8th grade then you probably remember it is a pretty confusing time socially. There were legitimatelly “cool” crowds and you knew if you were in one or not. I was not in the cool crowd but I wasn’t a total dork. Sure on the weekends me and my best friend Jack would bring our computers over to each other’s houses, connect them with a crossover cable (no wifi back then, yes I am old) and played Marathon 2 but we also listened to Metallica and Megadeath and went to parties at the same time. I guess you could call us cool dorks.
At any rate, you get the picture, I wasn’t cool in 8th grade.
In science class we would alternate tables every month, it was Mr. Freeman’s way of getting us to all interact with each other. The table assignments were picked by us, the students, and I personally loved the idea…until one day that I will never forget.
It was the beginning of a new month and time to change tables. I walked over to a table full of people I’d never met and sat down, this was going to be my table for the next month. That’s when one of the guys at the table turned to me and said “we don’t want you at this table, go find another table.” I was shocked, it didn’t make any sense, so I responded by saying, “we can sit wherever we want and I haven’t sat with any of you before so I want to sit at this table.”
Didn’t work. “Find another table.” He said again. Frustrated I went to Mr. Freeman to explain the situation. I told Mr. Freeman that his rules clearly stated we could pick our own tables so wasn’t I completely free to sit at their table? What he told me I will never forget.
“Morgan, you are absolutely correct, you have every right to sit at that table. My question to you would be, why would you want to sit with people who don’t want to sit with you?”
I didn’t have an answer.
“Wouldn’t you rather spend your next month at a table with people who want you to be there?” said Mr. Freeman.
It suddenly hit me. Sure it wasn’t fair, and yes I could have insisted and sat at the table, but why would I want to sit at a table where nobody else wanted me to be there. So I picked a different table and enjoyed the rest of the semester in 8th grade science.
Throughout my life this lesson has come up over and over again. It applies to business, friends, lovers, and the list goes on. It’s a simple point but a very powerful one. I have rephrased it to represent how I really think it applies to life as a whole:
“There will be people in this life who appreciate you and want to be with you, want to work with you, want to invest in you, etc. There will also be those who don’t like you, don’t want to work with you, and don’t want to invest in you. Spend less time trying to convince people they should like you, work with you, or invest in you, and more time with the people who really appreciate you and want to be around you.”
Know that you are amazing, but know that not everyone will see that. Stick with the people who appreciate you and stop fighting battles to convince people who don’t. Life is short and Mr. Freeman was right, whether it’s one month or one day I want to spend the maximum amount of time possible with the people who want to be with me.
Cofounder @FashionMetric, the Pandora of Menswear. I love writing even though most engineers don’t.