The Ethical Edge
The Art Of Integrity
DEAN DEL SESTO
“Everyone has to learn to think differently,
bigger, to open to possibilities.”
First a confession. During my second year in high school, my GPA made it AOK that some of my report cards might go MIA on the QT. The strategy of hiding my report cards worked for a while, but eventually I got caught and the repercussions were dire. Meanwhile, back at school, science class was a particular grind of agitation for me, so I would avoid it by sneaking off campus with my sketchpad to a ravine nearby to draw pictures. Somehow I felt justified doing what was in my heart, and frankly, dead frogs and Bunsen burners weren’t my thing. As luck would have it my penmanship was quite good, so forging notes to get back into class was a cinch. That is until one day an overzealous truancy officer followed me to my ravine. This would turn out to be one of the most defining moments of my life.
The next morning I was in the counseling office getting ready for some psycho-torture, when, “Gail” a pretty school counselor sat down and asked what I was doing when I ditched class. I told her I was drawing pictures in a ravine back behind metal shop. What I heard next made my mouth hit the floor so hard, it put a dent in the Linoleum. “Well” she said, “I’ll make you a deal. If you ditch class again and bring me the pictures you draw, I’ll write you a note to get back into class.” Long story short, this went on for a couple weeks, and the guilt got to me. I thanked Gail, gave her a picture, and reacquainted myself with the dead frogs. During our time together, Gail reviewed each picture, shared her thoughts about my talent and my future, and told me there were many ways a creative person could make a great living and do what he loved. I never left her office feeling anything other than empowered, encouraged and assured, even though I was failing in school (literally.) Gail convinced me that being “authentically me” was the most I could ask for and if I loved what I did in life, I’d always be successful.
As such, I’ve had a great career in marketing where I could use my creativity, and have paid Gail’s gift forward as a counselor/advisor encouraging others in their unique gifts as well. I can only say that outside my family, she was one of the few who encouraged me at such a profound level, and was willing to risk being completely unconventional to root in such encouragement.
Ironically, at a party recently, I met the superintendent of the OC school system and I told her the story and asked if she could get “Gail” a message of gratitude from me. Although she was unable to locate her, a part of Gail lives on in me and for that, I am forever grateful.
Dean Del Sesto can be contacted at email@example.com