Do you remember the words? Who said them? And how they changed your life? I’d like you to reflect on your childhood. Close your eyes if you’d like. Recall the time, the place, the weather, the feel and fragrance of the air. Think of a time in your youth when you were struggling or wandering aimlessly. Someone said something so simple yet so profound. It was a compliment about something you did. It struck a deep emotional chord. The words resonated because they were specific. Not just “Good job!” Those magical words lifted you to higher ground and propelled you to an exciting new chapter in your life. I’d like to hear your stories. I’ll begin with one of mine. I was an average eighth grader in Morganton. I was pretty apathetic about anything but baseball, basketball and football but not talented enough to make sports a career. English teacher Marilyn Williams told my mother Charlotte Leslie during a parent-teacher conference that I had a “wonderful way with words and might want to consider a career in journalism.” The light bulb went off. Mrs. Williams was also a wonderful musician and she helped influence my interest in composing. Recently I tracked her down. I wanted to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her encouragement and life changing inspiration. This time it was my time to lift her up. She was battling breast cancer. My expression of gratitude seemed just the sort of healing words she needed at the moment. I will never forget her. I have always been in awe of teachers and the powerful impact they can have. And it doesn’t take much. Just a few thoughtful, specific, genuine and encouraging words! I'll have another story tomorrow. What are your stories?