Who really needs a lesson here?

It’s not just happening in the marketplace—it’s in classrooms, too. It has different players and a different environment, but all the same patterns and the same bottom line: How can so many of those who have great influence over others not see those others as real people?

 

All the cheating scandals in the primary education system in recent years have provided more than enough evidence that some teachers have gone awry, but it struck a special chord with us when a Texas high school teacher, Thomas Walser, confirmed the mentality of too many teachers today:

 

“I think a lot of teachers get so wrapped up in the curriculum that they forget the students are people and not numbers.”

 

Sure, it’s not new news that some teachers aren’t the greatest, so what’s the big deal, right? But would it be a bigger deal if one of those teachers—the ones who see students as numbers and not people—had your child in their classroom?

 

 

Would it be a bigger deal if you realized that your company might be one of those teachers, getting so wrapped up in its P&L that it forgets its customers are people and not numbers?

 

 

Aside from the lump that might have just settled into your stomach, the big deal here is Walser. Walser is different from his fellow teachers. He recognizes the disgrace in seeing his students as anything other than the soft, malleable lives they are. He accepts his responsibility in molding such lives beyond the curriculum he’s been given. He focuses on building relationships with his students and helping them grow, not just as students, but as young adults. And for that, he is rewarded.

CBS broke the story on Walser after one of his students surprised him with a brand new pair of Air Jordans. A couple years earlier, it had come up in conversation with Hector that Walser had wanted a pair of the shoes since he was little. Over the next couple years, Walser and Hector formed a great relationship and Hector began to know his teacher as “the man who’s always been my side.” The shoes were a thank-you to Walser for touching his life.

The gesture was bigger than a pair of shoes. It was bigger than Hector, and it was bigger than Walser. The gesture was a mentality. One about focusing on people, what they can bring to your life, and what you can bring to theirs.

 

A mentality of mutual need. A mentality of mutual success.

 

So, what kind of teacher are you? The one that gets the curriculum taught, or the one that makes its students successful young people?

 

There’s always a bigger job to be done. And there’s always a bigger reward to be had.

 

Do the bigger job. Get the bigger reward. Put people first.