There are countless benefits to teaching, however, none is more important than the impact it has on the future of humankind. Teaching is our highest calling, and the one thing each of us can do.

The most influential teacher in my own life didn’t have a degree, much less a teaching certificate or Ph.D. It was my mother Emily. Aside from teaching me right from wrong as most parents do, she taught me a philosophy, an inextricable belief in myself, and a set of values that would guide and influence my decisions for the rest of my life.

She taught me that we are all either victims or heroes and that being a hero is a choice we all must make each and every day.

She taught me to care deeply about others, and perhaps most importantly, that it was my responsibility to “leave this planet better than the one I came into.”

At an early age she began introducing me to other teachers—those who could take me beyond her own knowledge and insights and assist me in creating a better world, and a better life for myself.

Some of them had names like Aristotle, Jesus, Gandhi, Confucius, and Buddha, while others included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Napoleon Hill, George Bernard Shaw, and even Richard Bach. I will never forget the day she handed me a short story in Readers Digest titled Jonathon Livingston Seagull—it wasn’t even a book yet. I was only twelve and it captured my imagination with the soaring possibilities of limitless being.

A record (remember those?) featuring Earl Nightingale immediately followed. Its title was The Strangest Secret and it too changed my life forever. When Earl later released the recording as an audio tape, I purchased it with my own allowance, then listened to it until it literally fell apart. Eventually, I listened to thousands of tapes, and read twice as many books—continually feeding myself with insight and inspiration.

The teachers I admire most of all are those who guided me to actualize my potential, helped me understand myself, and inspired me to make a difference in the world. To them I am eternally grateful. I am especially grateful to my mother who instilled an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for sharing it with others. Thanks to her, the only thing I love more than teaching is inspiring others to teach.

Whether I teach you to inspire or inspire you to teach, I will have achieved my mother’s greatest wish. It is my ultimate hope that every single one of us is blessed with a calling to teach, for there is no greater impact we can have on this world and no greater reward.

MARK FOURNIER is an inspirational speaker and empowerment coach, and the creator of books and online courses, including Mastering the 7 Habits of Happier People, converting proven principles into results-generating habits using his PermaLearn Mastery system.

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