Musician Marty Stuart tells this story about a famous fellow Mississippian:
“Now there was a young man from DeSoto County, Mississippi, who found himself a mentor in one Dr. Robert Khayat, who at the time was a professor of law at the University of Mississippi. One of Dr. Khayat’s greatest gifts is recognizing and unlocking the greatness in people. In this particular student, he saw a gifted writer. And it all started with a law exam. The student was given four hypothetical situations. The assignment to the young lawyer-to-be was to analyze the situations, identify the legal issues, and then elaborate. Out of the four questions, the young man wrote three great answers. But on the fourth question, he wrote his best answer, but it had nothing to do with the original question. Doctor Khayat graded the paper, and in red he wrote, ‘You missed all the issues, but you write great fiction,’ and gave it a B-plus. Here’s the verdict: the good Dr. Khayat went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, and the student who made the B-plus on the examination paper, well, he framed it and hung it on the wall in the room where he continues to write book after book to this day. His name is John Grisham, the author of over twenty books. Every one of them is a multi-million seller, now printed in over 30 languages. And it all started with the right words of encouragement from a great mentor.”
Every day, we have oodles of opportunities to shine a light on people’s strengths, even in the shadow of their shortcomings. The kind word invested today can pay off in great rewards later. Be the bright spot in someone’s day today.