Mr. Ralph Bergstrom was one of my favorite high school teachers. He taught Social Studies and his lessons would always go beyond the classroom. I would like to share one that I reflect on quite often.
Mr. Bergstrom was very fond of Theodore Roosevelt and, ironically, I went to Roosevelt High School. In fact, Mr. Bergstrom liked Teddy Roosevelt so much he had a very large framed photograph of Roosevelt in his classroom. Every day I would enter the classroom and notice the frame was slightly tilted, so I would go over to the picture and straighten it out. However, during every lecture while Mr. Bergstrom was making a key point, he would walk over to the picture of Roosevelt and tilt it back while staring directly at me. This ritual lasted the entire year without either of us speaking directly about it. It was like clockwork: I would walk in class, notice the picture tilted, I would straighten it out, and find my seat. During the lecture, Mr. Bergstrom would tilt it back – it was like Ground Hog Day.
Years later, the lesson that Mr. Bergstrom was trying to teach finally hit me: everything does not have to be in order. In fact, it might give you a better perspective if you tilt it. What in your life could use a little tilting? Instead of facing challenges straight on, perhaps it might be more effective if you look at them from a different angle.