As we head into a new school year, I am reminded of a crucial awareness whenever we are about to begin a journey: What’s our purpose? Having clarity on ‘why’ we do something is essential to achieving desired outcomes. Whether we are parents, educators, coaches or almost any other role we have, human development is our purpose.

I learned a fundamental lesson about human development from my grandson Joe when he was in kindergarten. One day early in the year Joe came to our house after school.

“Joe,” I asked him, “how is school going?”

“I love school,” said Joe.

“Why is that?” I inquired.

“Well last year when I was in pre-school, at the beginning of the day my teacher would say, ‘Let’s get down to work.’ But this year my teacher says, ‘Hi, Joe, I’m glad you’re here.’”

As I listened to what this young boy was saying, a light-bulb went on in my head and I realized that Joe was telling me something that is profound. Joe was revealing a principle of human development: Human being precedes human doing.

During my time as an English teacher, I wanted my students to be doers. I wanted them to read novels, study vocabulary, and write paragraphs and stories. What I didn’t realize was if I wanted my students to be doers at their highest level, I first needed to deal with them as human beings.

This is as true for us as adults as it is for young people. If we or our colleagues are going to perform at our highest level, we first need to deal with each other and ourselves as human beings.

This principle of human development is easy to forget. We can get caught up in grades, test scores, winning or other measures of achievement while neglecting the essential work of human development.

Two questions that flow from what Joe’s kindergarten teacher said to him might keep us on track:

  1. Do I relate to others in such a way that they feel like they belong?
  2. Are people glad that they have spent time with me?

I am fortunate that my Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…never let me forget that human being precedes human doing.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training