“Life is not about me, it’s about others.”
-Frances Bartlett Kinne-
It is 1917 and Oregon beats Pennsylvania (14-0) in the Rose Bowl. German U-boats stalk international waters. The US Supreme Court upholds the 8-hour workday for railroad workers. The United States officially enters World War I. Babe Ruth plays for the Red Sox—and pitches Boston to a victory over the New York Yankees.
And, a little girl was born to proud parents in Iowa. She would grow into a woman whose influence, graciousness, and concern for others would leave a meaningful impact around the world. We would come to know this young Iowa girl as Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne.
My introduction to Dr. Kinne came when I entered Jacksonville University as a young college freshman in August of 1971. At the time, she served as the college’s Dean of Fine Arts. Little did I know the reach and powerful influence she had and would have on so many people.
Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with this young-at-heart-and-in-mind centenarian to record a podcast conversation for The Growth and Resilience Network™. (You can listen to the episode on November 15, 2016.)
Never did I think forty-five years ago that I would be sitting in her den listening and learning quite literally at the foot of a master. A master of music, education, and human relationships. And so much more.
I heard powerful wisdom humbly presented.
She attributes her growth as an individual directly to her parents. In her autobiography Iowa Girl: The President Wears A Dress, she states,
“My parents always taught me to be independent,
and I had a general optimism about my capacity to live
unhampered by doubt, hesitation or fear.”
A few of the lessons that jump from that quote:
- The importance of family;
- The significance of role models; and
- The power of self-confidence and optimism.
Dr. Kinne’s life resonates with optimism, grit, and resilience. Her life personified a lesson from her father, “Life is a journey, not a guided tour.” We have to seize (and many times, make) our opportunities as we move through life. Not just to add to our resume but, rather, to embrace a greater purpose beyond listing the things we accomplish.
During our conversation, she did not want to dwell on her “accomplishments.” Rather, she told me, “My job is to help others. Life is not about me, it’s about others.”
I thought of how many people reverse that last sentence and live by “Life is not about others, it’s about me!” You know the folks. Those who remind you at every turn just how great or renowned they are.
For Dr. Kinne, it cannot be about that. It has to be about the people in front of her. She treats them as if they are the thought leaders, the pioneers, the all-stars. She wants to help pave the way for them. Effective teachers intuitively know this. Transformational leaders live it. Dr. Kinne is both.
I asked her to leave our listeners with a Call-to-Action. What would she suggest we consider doing and being in order to live a life of resilience and service to others? She answered by turning the spotlight from her to me. She talked about openness and the power of thinking about others.
When I had arrived at her home early that afternoon, I found her sitting in her parlor speaking with a former student—one of the thousands that still stay connected with this “Iowa Girl” who has made such a lasting impact on our world.
As we get ready for the day, week, and years ahead, we would all do well to remember her sage teaching (by way of her father): Life is a journey, not a guided tour. What legacy will we leave?
Video recommendation for the week:
Enjoy a little bit of the musical talent of this gifted and classically trained pianist. And mark your calendar to tune in to our podcast on November 15, 2016.
Thank you, Dr. Kinne.
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.