From the Teacher’s Desk: From Success to Significance


By Leonard Quilty

            In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Just before the Christmas break, the students in my LA 7 class had to write a poem on the topic of change or transition. As part of the assignment instructions, a previous teacher of the course had included (as an exemplar) a poem I wrote about ten years ago. At the time, a neighbor of my parents in Dunville, NL had moved from her home in a section of the town called Broad Cove to a seniors’ complex in the city of St. John’s. Here is my poem:

Leaving Home

Her hastened departure
belies the memories
of sixty-two years –
in the cove.

Her hardened face
conveys anguish
over the untimely removal
from her cherished abode –
in the cove.

Her triad of offspring
usher her hurriedly into the car
lest she linger with a transfixed gaze
on still images –
in the cove.

Her heavy thoughts,
like the swell of the evening tide,
wash over her prolonged goodbye to life –
in the cove.

Throughout history, any meaningful progress in society resulted from someone taking the initiative to change the circumstances he or she faced. All of these inventors or innovators were willing to forego the status quo in order to illuminate the parameters of a brave new world.

As 2015 winds down many of us will set goals for the New Year. Of course, to actualize these goals it will quite likely involve initiating change in some aspect of our current behavior. Possible examples could include adopting a new diet regimen, starting a program of daily or weekly exercise, or instituting more discipline around a schedule of reading or writing (talking to myself here!).

Yes, for any goal we set, self-discipline is a vital part of the equation. Jim Rohn, whose wisdom I really admire, had some great advice on the topic of self-discipline: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

As we look beyond the horizon of 2015, maybe not all of us will aspire to create a “dent in the universe” (à la Steve Jobs of Apple fame). But we can each, in our own individual quest to accomplish our goals, increase the quality of our life and maybe by extension the lives of those around us.

By continuing to strive for a new pinnacle of success (in whatever our chosen endeavor), we can inch closer to the realm of a significant life. Just imagine the ripple effect that would have in our world.

Leonard Quilty is a guidance counsellor with the Centre for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at