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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opinion: Life’s greatest teachers are life’s greatest allies

Opinion: Life’s greatest teachers are life’s greatest allies

Bertrand Russell

Stuart Alan Becker DURING the course of preparing Excell-ence in Service, I learned a lot about the interplay between Westerners and local Cambodians.

As a Westerner myself, I’m humbled to be a guest in Cambodia. Although I want to succeed and teach local people what I know, it’s also necessary for me to be ever mindful that any swaggering arrogance on my part will only cause me profound embarrassment.

There’s a fine line and a delicate balance between being a professional and doing what you know anywhere in the world, and being aware of your atmosphere, your audience and the fact that all the people around you are every bit as important as you are.

Every tuk-tuk driver, every cleaning lady, every poor mother from the province pulling a cart along the road with her children riding in the back is not merely as important as me – they are more important than me.

We Western guests in Cambodia are extraordinarily privileged to be in the presence of these Cambodian people labouring to improve their lives following a diffi-cult, turbulent and bewildering period of history.

Luckily for me, I’ve had the extraordinary good fortune of having some of the best teachers in the world during 50 years of life.

Teachers like former US Marine and Associated Press newsman David Roads, whose kind influence and fearlessness had a profound influence on me.

He taught me to see the best in people, to stay calm and to act with kindness in every possible situation.

Teachers like Professor Noam Chomsky, who, inundated with requests for interviews and speaking engagements, still found time to answer my email questions about relations between nations, history, language and anything else that was puzzling me.

You know what I learned about these great teachers? They had had great teachers themselves and they were just passing it on.

As a young philosopher, Chomsky had written a letter to the great English mathematician and phil-osopher Bertrand Russell and was delighted when he received a detailed reply. Chomsky was certainly empowered and emboldened by Russell’s personal response.

These great teachers of our lives who give us answers are the best possible influences we could ever have in our lives, because they give us the ability to make decisions – good decisions that cause us to be respected and thus enable us to flourish in our lives.

I hope that somewhere in the pages of Excellence in Service, you will discover something as I have, from these people who took their time to explain what they know about service, training local staff and delivering good experiences to the people that make their businesses successful.



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