Tall poppies: Cheer ’em, don’t cut ’em down

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What do business gurus Tom Peters, Peter Drucker and GE-fame Jack Welsh have in common?

Or uber-successful locals like Lorna and Paul Finman, drivers of CubeSat and founders of several local companies including LCF Enterprises? Or the leaders of NIC and U. Idaho in Coeur d’Alene, Rick MacLennan and Charles Buck?

Entrepreneur and athletic coach Peter Neirinckx? Surgeons, medical and dental doctors, psychologists, lawyers, judges, engineers, physicists, educators? Many religious leaders, musicians and artists? Female astronauts Rubins, Whitson, and Meir? So many icons of American history, movers and shakers?

The answer, in addition to their doctorate degrees, is habits. Habits of hard work, resilience, mental discipline and continuous learning, habits drilled into them, in part, from years of difficult university coursework often done under conditions of near poverty. Their college experience was not just about relationship building, it was habit forming. A habit of lifelong learning.

Without these people our community, indeed our nation, would be a shadow of itself. America would not be America.

These “tall poppies” are typically the quiet, hard-working people who see profound importance of things others find dull. Some of these people really are weirdly wonderful. Probably only oddballs like me get entranced reading about Prochlorococcus (the smallest and most common photosynthesizing organism on our planet) or the powerful Argo ocean-temperature datasets that may help explain the curious increase in devastating and global extreme weather events.

The energy in our KTEC, CTEC, STEM, NIC, etc. is fantastic. We need our whole community behind this! All I ask is that we do not also give university education a black label just because it is not for everyone. Let’s laud our tall poppies, whatever their path to success.

• • •

Charles Sorensson is a Hayden resident.

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