A Teacher Changed My Life!


I received a book when I was in the 10th grade by a teacher who I really admired and looked up to. At the time she gave it to me… I thought she had lost her mind. I didn’t understand why she would be handing me such a childish book. But I’ll never in a million years forget what she said to me as she handed me the book. “You are going to accomplish big things!” Those words have echoed in my mind everyday since.

The book… Dr. Seuss : Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I have to admit, I took it home and didn’t pick it up until my senior year of high school. I was trying to decide what my life would look like after graduation. Would I stay home and go to Community College? Would I just try to find a job? Would I leave home and go somewhere far away? I simply didn’t know. Not until one morning I heard the words of my teacher ringing in my ears. I picked up the book and began to read it.

With tears coming down my face… I finished the book, looked at myself in the mirror and repeated the words I had heard a few years earlier. “You are going to accomplish big things!” I knew then and there what it meant.  I would have to leave the town I grew up in only to return to visit friends and family. Everything that was so familiar in my life would be in the rearview mirror.

It was a hard reality to face. For both me and my family. Yet it was the single greatest decision I’ve ever made. Do I miss not being right down the street from everyone? Being able to have dinner with my friends? Watching our kids grow up as friends just like we did? You bet! Does it break my heart every time we pull out of town and my kids are crying because they want to stay with Nana and Papa? Every single time!

Yet I know… I have been able to accomplish incredible things in my short lifespan because I had the courage to pack up and get out into the world. Things I would have never been able to do if I had stayed closer to home.

And I’m not knocking anyone who indeed stayed in the towns they grew up in. I’ve got plenty of friends who are extremely successful in their lives staying close to home. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. And if I had chosen that path… I’m not sure where I would have ended up.

But I couldn’t go to my grave one day wondering “what if.” I knew there would be tough moments. I knew there would be amazing adventures. I knew certain experiences would leave scares.  I knew I would have “top of the world” moments. But I wanted to feel all of them.

By no means have I arrived. I’m not even sure we were meant to “arrive.” I think the journey is the point. There is a great big world out there. It will eat you up and spit you out. But if you’ll just dare to go… You’ll be better for it. You’ll learn more about who you are, and more important, who you’re not. You’ll develop your own belief system. Not just one you were taught to believe. You’ll impact more people than you ever dreamed of. Your mountain is waiting… If you’ll just go!

The day my teacher gave me that book and said those words, was the day my entire world flipped upside down.

Our teachers are doing more than just making sure our kids pass test. They are guiding and directing the futures of our children. Please make sure you are kind to those who teach. So gratitude often. And who knows… Maybe the words they share with your kids will set them on a path to become themselves. And that is HUGE!

Here are the words to Oh, the Places You’ll Go! As you read them… I hope you’re encouraged to get out there and move your mountain!


Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on y our way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t
Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

*** The above text was copyrighted in 1990 .
The complete book which has great pictures to accompany the text is published by Random House and can be purchase at any bookstore. Cost: approx. $10-$15