While I was pursuing my graduate degree at the University of Toronto (OISE), I had the privilege of being a resident of Wycliffe College. Despite not being a student there, living at the college was a significant part of my graduate experience and really shaped the woman I am today. I met some of my best friends through living in the residence.
As it is the start of the school year, I thought it would be appropriate to ask the former principal of Wycliffe College, Dr. Reginald Stackhouse, to share his life lessons with us. Reg is a prominent educator, a Canadian politician, and a friend of my family. I thought it would be fitting to ask him to be part of my “Profiles of Perseverance” series as he has persevered through trying times and has left a huge impact on so many lives. He is a mentor, and I am honoured to share his advice. Reg knows the importance of nurturing the next generation and exemplifies this in how he lives his life. Thank you, Reg, for taking part in the series!
1. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?
As a newly ordained curate, my rector started me off with counsel that shocked me at first until I learned how right it was. He said: “The first thing you have to do is make the people like you. If they like you, you can get away with murder! But if they don’t like you, you can’t do anything right!”
2. How important is mentorship in terms of your success?Mentorship has been vital to any success I have enjoyed. Sometimes it has been showing me the way to follow, and at other times it has been showing me the traps to avoid.
3. What has been the best moment in your life so far?
The best moment in my life so far has been marrying Margaret. If you can do only one right thing in life, make it that thing.
4. What tips would you have for living a healthy life?
Tips for living a healthy life have to include the obvious – such as, avoiding tobacco and alcohol – but though not as obvious, I recommend also a healthy dose of courage when facing the unknown.
5. How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?
Persisting in the face of defeats is possible when we develop a positive attitude, learn from our defeats how to win, and find courage from the examples of leaders who have come back from defeats.
6. What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
My biggest setback was losing the 1988 election, then developing a way to recover my self-image as more a winner than a loser.
7. How do you deal with critics?
Dealing with critics has been best when analysis of the criticism has shown me how valid it was and how I could correct the feature of my ‘style’ that had become the target of my critics.
8. How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?
Social support by family and colleagues is very important to success because no one can achieve much on one’s own.
9. What advice would you give others about goal setting?
It is wisest for us to distinguish between goals (which may be long term or short) and objectives which are short-term gains that permit us to achieve our goals.
10. What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?
A life lesson that, if learned soon enough, can transform anyone’s life is becoming a positive thinker who is more conscious of their achievements in life than of their failures.
Thank you, Reg, for sharing your thoughts with us and continuing to impact the lives of the individuals you connect with. I am blessed to know you.