Last week, Mitch Albom visited Xavier School and we were able to hear him speak about his life story, his books and more importantly, lessons he has learned throughout the years. Not everyone gets the opportunity to hear such an inspiring individual so here’s a few of the takeaways I got from our session with him.
You don’t need to know what you want to end up doing at 15 or 16
Mitch Albom wasn’t always the New York Times best selling author we know him to be. He emphasised in his talk how when he was still a high school student, he never thought he’d write all these books. He was just another ordinary high school student who was into several different activities like sports and music. And he actually wanted to become a record producer and write song.
“Sometimes, the kids here worry about what they’re going to be in life at 15 or 16, but I always tell people what I wanted to do at 15 or 16 wasn’t what I ended up doing. Life is going to change. I wanted to be a musician but it didn’t work out. I went into writing and writing worked out but I didn’t write anything until I was 23 years old.”
What you initially do won’t always work out immediately
He wrote Tuesdays With Morrie because he wanted to be able to pay for Morrie’s medical bills so that Morrie’s family wouldn’t need to be in debt after Morrie died. Moreover, he wanted to spend more time with Morrie because even if Morrie was dying, he seemed happier than Mitch at that time so Mitch wanted to find “Secret of how do you live a life so you don’t have regrets when you get at the end of it”
The desire of Mitch to give back to Morrie pushed him to find publishers to publish his first book Tuesdays With Morrie. A lot of the publishers said “no, it’s boring, you’re a sportswriter…. you don’t even know what a memoir is…” Yet he stuck with it because writing Tuesdays with Morrie was something more than himself.
“People began to read it and pass it to somebody and it just got bigger and bigger. And six weeks later, all the publishers, every single one who said no to me asked me to write my next book for them, they wanted me to write Wednesdays with Morrie.”
“No matter what you’re trying, even if you fail in the beginning and people say you’re no good, don’t listen to them; Just listen to your own heart.”
And because Mitch Albom never gave up, he was able to visit Xavier School and more amazingly, Tuesdays With Morrie is now the best selling memoir in the WORLD!
It all begins with a story
With Mitch talking about all the distractions in life right now with technology and how we a lot of times do everything to avoid human contact, I just had to ask Mitch how can we encourage kids to still read real books and not just spend all day in front of the computer and here was his response:
“Everything begins with a story. There will be no movies without scripts. The reason its important to keep reading books and real stories so that you can learn how to tell a story. There’s a reason why people learn things about life from stories and there’s no way to tell a story without reading a story. You have to learn how to read first before you can write.”
How do we overcome the challenges in our life? Don’t think of yourself, do things for others
“You have to believe in yourself, that you’re doing things for the right reasons. I wasn’t thinking about myself when looking for a publisher for Tuesdays With Morrie, i was doing it for someone else. If you believe that you’re doing the right thing in your heart, you have to believe, you have to prevail and you will prevail.”
Mitch learned this lesson from Morrie and how people would come visit Morrie to try to cheer him up only to end up being the one cheered up by Morrie. And when Mitch asked him, “You’re dying, why do you spend so much time helping other people, shouldn’t you be taking the help of others?”
Morrie replied, “taking makes me feel like I’m dying, giving makes me feel like I’m living”
Make memories with the people in your life now
“We are all very busy in the world today, you kids will be even busier with all the technology, internet, smartphones, it becomes harder and harder to cherish the people important in your life.”
“Take the people you love in your live now, spend time with them now, make memories with them now, sit down and talk with them now, shut off the computer for an hour, shut off the television and just make the memories now so heaven forbid when they’re gone, they’ll be in side your heart you can still talk to them and you won’t sit around waiting for a phone call from heaven to come because you’ll have that phone call inside you already.”
“Make the memories with the people in your life now.”
*a lot of the content here are direct quotations or paraphrased lines from Mitch Albom himself, hope you learned a lot from reading this post 🙂