What makes an individual interesting? Is it their qualifications, education, activities, or something else? I would venture to say that it is all of the above plus character, demeanor, and a series of other … je ne sais quoi…X factors.
In my regular interaction with students and youth, I always ask them, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” A pilot? That’s what my 13 year-old tells me he wants to be. A physician? I know a few of those and have been treated by many. A lawyer? I know several of those and fortunately have not had to be defended by any. A tennis coach? I can only dream. A musician? I sing, but only in the shower. All worthy professions, but what does it take to achieve any of that?
Just two days of ago, on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, I was privileged to have sat next to a gentleman that I consider the most interesting man in the world (no, not that guy in those television commercials!) This soft-spoken scholar of a man is in his early seventies, was with his family – two young children (the youngest was 10) and a wife who was obviously much younger. That is interesting enough, but there is more. He was born in the Caribbean – a black man, one of eight children, and educated at Cambridge University in England, where he currently resides, after having lived in. It gets more interesting. I was intrigued when he mentioned that he and his wife run tennis camps in England (I am a tennis fan, I try to play and follow all the tournaments on the internet). By the way, the flight was 8 hours and we did not talk all the time, our conversation was limited as we watched movies and slept part of the way (I did, but he never appeared to have shut his eyes for a second, nor did he ever get up to use the restroom – I did a few times).
He began our conversation by emphasizing the importance of education, so he captured my attention right away. He preempted many of my education lines, but I managed to get in, “education is the cure for poverty, key to success and roadmap to prosperity”. He told me that he trains individuals who want to teach to obtain certification in order to do so. You see, in England one must pass a rigorous certification examination to teach at any level. Then, as I continued to coax information out of this gentleman, he informed me that he was trained as a medical doctor, practiced as a gynecologist for over 20 years, and then decided to move out of that profession, so he became a lawyer! Oh, there is more! Besides that he is a musician and a pilot! He flew cargo planes for years before going to Cambridge, and still flies to this day. Mind you that he released all this information bit by bit, not all at once.
I say “Dr. G” is the most interesting man in the world not because of his qualifications and numerous achievements, but especially because of his self-effacing attitude, modesty, and humility. That’s how I want to be when I grow up.