We've all gotten to where we are today because someone helped us along the way. My earliest recollection of someone who has made an impact on my life is Mrs. Perskinski, my kindergarten teacher.
I had a lot of friends in school and I was pretty social -- as social as any 5-year-old social butterfly could be. But one day, I came to school filled with sadness. I was down right melancholy. Mrs. Perskinski knew something was wrong because I seemed depressed, despondent and different from my usual cheery demeanor. She asked me, "What's wrong Toan? Is everything ok?" I told her, "I'm really sad." She asked, "Why?" I told her that I saw on the news that another kid was shot and killed in my neighborhood and that made me really sad.
What she told me next changed the trajectory of my life forever.
She told me, "In life, we have choices, Toan. You can make bad choices and you can make good choices. If you make bad choices, then bad things happen to you. If you make good choices, good things happen."
Looking back, I think she was trying to explain cause and affect, and the idea of karma -- that the good choices beget goodness and bad decisions lead to bad consequences.
This was the earliest philosophical conversation that I can remember -- it was also the first person, outside of my family that made an impact on my life. Words possess such power, for good and bad. So I learned to be careful how I use them.
Funny how I chose to become a TV reporter who would cover death and destruction on a daily basis for almost a decade. I'm glad to report that although I'm grateful for that experience, I've left the news biz and carved out my own path to inspire people -through storytelling and videos - to use their power (resources, talents and network) to help others.
Thanks Mrs. Persinski and to everyone who is using your words carefully to inspire the future.
I'm currently looking for Mrs. Persinski to thank her for the impact and life lesson she's had on me. I'm sure there's someone in your life you'd like to thank for shaping your journey for the good...
Follow Toan Lam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GoInspireGo