I recently stumbled upon a Facebook post about Thomas Edison that told the following story…
One day, as a small child, Thomas Edison came home from school and gave a paper to his mother. He said to her, “Mom, my teacher gave this paper to me and told me only you are to read it. What does it say?”
Her eyes welled with tears as she read the letter out loud to her child. “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.”
Many years after Edison’s mother had died, he became one of the greatest inventors of the century. One day he was going through a closet and he found the folded letter that his old teacher wrote his Mother that day. He opened it. The message written on the letter was, Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.
Edison became emotional reading it and then wrote in his diary: “Thomas A. Edison was a mentally deficient child whose mother turned him into the genius of the Century.”
I looked into the story and found that it was mostly untrue. There was never a letter sent to Edison’s mom. But Edison did overhear his teacher say that he was deficient and not worth being kept in school. He told his mother who promptly returned to the school, told his teacher that he was wrong about her boy, yanked her son out that day, and home schooled the boy from that point on.
I wanted to share the Facebook version because, although it’s complete fiction, it still rings true.
Because, like a good novel that we know is fiction, or a favorite movie that we know isn’t real, we can still learn an important truth: A positive word of encouragement can change anyone’s destiny.