I will never forget my my 7th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Mitchell. He graded all of our essays in thick red ink and taught us to think on a global scale. He had this thick laugh that resonated throughout the halls with a sense of authority and command.
“Knowledge Is Power” Tee-shirts
Mr. Mitchell liked to be the best at everything. Part of that was teaching 7th grade students to think about the world around them. Another part of that was coaching the Academic Bowl team. I will never forget the dark blue tee-shirts that had our middle school logo on the front left corner–an emblem that represented the school we attended. However, even more noticeable was the bright letters on the back of our shirts in big bold font, “Knowledge Is Power.”
At the time, my shy self thought nothing of the tee-shirt. To me it was just another quote written on the back of a shirt. It was a free piece of clothing that I could proudly display my dedication to my middle school. I had a half a dozen shirts for all the other activities I was involved in so this would sit in my dresser next to all the other shirts. I remember that the sizes were all too big for us so anytime I wore the shirt, it was an over sized mess.
Knowledge Is Everything
Now that I am reflecting upon those experiences in the 7th grade, I realize that knowledge is everything. Perhaps that is obvious but let me be very specific. Who you know is way more important than what you know. But extended one degree, the people who know the people that you know are the most important.
People Are Power
If i were to make another tee-shirt that more accurately reflected my current day view on knowledge, they would say “People Are Power.” In other words, it is not necessarily general knowledge that holds power; it is relationships that are truly everything. So who are the people that you know and how are they influencing the way you think, the way you act, and the future paths you will travel?
Influence Your Peers
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” In the 7th grade, we would have called this peer pressure and the academic circles always painted peer pressure in a negative light. “Don’t get peer pressured to try drugs, steal, do wrong” etc. But I challenge you to pressure your peers to step up their game and surround themselves with influential people.
Mr. Mitchell taught me to think and to intelligently express those thoughts in my own words. Even though he tore apart my essays with his red pen he taught me that knowledge is power. Even though I did not understand the importance of the concept in the 7th grade, this simple message sticks with me today. Surround yourself with the right people.