Change The Things You Can

 In Blog

If you’ve heard me present, you’ll likely remember the story of when yours truly, as a bad 16 year old driver, had my first fender bender. Not your typical fender bender, I was SUCH a bad driver that I backed into a brand new sports car – owned by my high school principal, Mr. Larry Luetjen.

Following that minor incident, Mr. Luetjen gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever received:

“Marcus, as you get a little older, you’re going to realize there are so many things in the world you can’t change. This is one thing you CAN change. Change the things you can and don’t worry about the rest…after all, there’s nothing you can do about things you can’t change.”

Change the things you can. This all encompassing statement shows acceptance, empowerment and progress towards an end. Change the things you can. This mantra was repeated time and time again throughout my hospitalization, as well as, oh, the last decade and a half.

This past Saturday, over a Cracker Barrel lunch of chicken fried steak, I had one of the most meaningful times of my life. Sitting across from Mr. Luetjen, I was finally able to tell him, man to man, just how much that experience changed my life – and how it continues to help me every day.

We have all, ALL benefited from the influence of teachers, administrators, youth group leaders, coaches, etc. I sure have, as evidenced by the fact you’ve all heard me say, “Change the things you can.” But how wrong is it to have benefited from adult leadership, but never have taken the time to say a simple, “Thank you”? It’s terrible! I don’t ever want the important people to continue on without the knowledge of just what I’ve gained! This is why sitting there at Cracker Barrel, one of my life’s goals was completed: Tell it to the man himself.

Emotions are tricky to put into words. What the hell? It’s not like I’m a writer or something! Maybe this is why it’s just so tough to describe why I feel like that debt I’ve owed since the early 90s has finally, finally been repaid. Again, Mr. Luetjen… thank you.

And it doesn’t take a genius to know that for every Marc Engel who verbalizes that sentiment, there are hundreds (thousands?) of students who your leadership has touched… you’ll just never hear it from them. Trust me, though, it’s there.

And next time? I get to pick up the tab for lunch… perhaps at the New Smyrna Steakhouse?

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