Dear Mr. Zander, I met you almost 10 years ago and you transformed my life.
You and Ms. Zander gave the keynote address at the second ever Harvard conference on coaching in healthcare. I was one of only a handful of physicians in attendance. You discussed the central tenets of your book, The Art of Possibility. I could not wait to get my copy signed, and you also graciously agreed to a photo. I have since read and listened to your book at least a dozen times, and every time I gain something new and relevant. The names of the practices ring in my consciousness on a regular basis: Give the A, Rule #6, Be a Contribution, Lead From Any Chair, and Be the Board. I describe the practices and their benefits, still, to anyone who will listen.
Back in 2015 I boldly contacted the Boston Philharmonic to see if you could speak at the American College of Physicians Illinois Chapter Meeting. You actually spoke to me on the phone and considered coming! I was honored. Though it did not work out (I knew it was the longest of long shots), it amazed me that someone as sought after as you would personally take a phone call from a random, unknown doctor in Chicago. Later that year, when I attended the Harvard Writers conference (the birthplace of this blog), I had the honor of observing a master class where I witnessed you love some young musicians into their best selves. They believed in themselves because you saw them, loved them, and believed in them. That is the best thing any teacher can do for a student.
Throughout these last ten years, I have continued to seek, study, and attempt to apply learnings from authors, teachers, and mentors like you, people who see the world as broken as it is, and also the hope of humanity’s strengths and connections. There is no shortage of people trying to help us all be better, for ourselves and one another, and no more urgent time or need for this teaching than now. I count myself beyond fortunate to have benefited from your influence and inspiration so early in my life and career, to have you as my model. No doubt I am only one of thousands, if not tens (hundreds?) of thousands, whose lives you have transformed for the better. I wish you an ever broader and higher platform from which to reach countless more people and organizations. I wish you peace, health, and joy in all your endeavors and relationships.
Please know how much you have meant to so many.
Catherine Cheng, MD
What a beautiful letter of gratitude! Cathy, your ongoing commitment to express your gratitude continues to inspire me. Among the many things in your blog that struck me is your comment that Mr. Zander loves his students into their best selves. Many years ago I heard a coach say, “People will always live into our expectations of them.” Your words takes this idea one step further. I wonder what might happen if each of us approached every encounter by looking for and focusing on what we love about the person we’re interacting with. Thank you!
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Thank you, Donna!
When we look back on our favorite teachers, don’t you think this is what we felt?
And yes, just consider the possibility of all that love, between people in all relationships, including between strangers… 😱
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