The King’s Speech, arguably the best film of the year, lays bare the inner fears of a man forced into a life that demanded a great deal more than he was initially prepared to handle, a life that he dreaded. Also revealed are childhood traumas from which royals are not exempt, traumas that carry mental scars that need to become unbound if they are to be healed and overcome.
“Albert Frederick Arthur George,” later to become King George VI develops a terrible stammer, an outward manifestation of these inner fears and traumas. Lionel, an Australian speech therapist, together with Albert’s wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, encouraged, supported and jointly worked with Albert to overcome his stammering, which otherwise would have destroyed any chance of him ascending to the throne of the English empire.
The story of King George’s stammering and inner fears is so universal. We each in our own way, have hurdles to overcome. Many of us never make it. We have a thousand excuses for not achieving our true objectives. Instead, we reduce our objectives to the point at which our fears are reduced to comfortable levels.
Throughout the film I was drawn back to my own childhood memories, struggles with poor reading and dyslexia, which was an accurate diagnosis, but also a diagnosis that was secondary to a pathetic lack of skill development and compensatory drive to overcome. I remember the sense of embarrassment and humiliation very well, especially when required to read publicly. Like “Albert Frederick Arthur George,” I stubbornly fought the obvious need to knuckle down, to compensate with a 1000% effort, combined with good trainers to help jump the hurdles. Going from desire to action, for the King, for me, for many people, is a matter of facing the future in the face and realizing the limitations one places on oneself by not making the required effort.
Early in my teens, I realized that whatever effort it took to overcome the poor reading was immeasurably less of a drain than would I have given up, covered up and turned to non-academic pursuits. As things turned out, I was able to use that stubbornness in the pursuit of many dreams and to great advantage.
When I originally moved to Israel in 1972, I came across many people who went through personal struggles far greater than my own. There was really no room for complacency when you understood the hardship that other people endured. Faced with a practical need to learn Hebrew, I gained a general passion for foreign languages and the thrill, excitement and fun of communicating across languages and cultural barriers. Ironically, in the end, I even developed an interest in English grammar. Miracles do happen.
This transformation that I went through cements my thinking that general education is extremely important. You never know what skills you will want or need later in life. Targeting areas of weakness in our education is absolutely more important and valuable than continuously focusing on our strengths.
As I look around the pest control industry now, I see so many people, young and old, whose careers and businesses are diminished by huge holes in their education. At Hearts Pest Management we offer to pay 50% of all higher education tuition because it is that important to me that our employees fill that gap. In a field where physical fitness is so important, I want to be in a position to extend my employees careers beyond their best days of physical fitness, into the latter portion of their careers, when they have so much to share with others and deserve a place to rest their hats in the office. Also, I don’t want to cut short the professional field service revenue producing and earnings potential of my staff due to educational skills that were not developed prior to their employment at Hearts. I could simply take advantage of poor skill development and cut the lowest pay rate deal with my employees, but it is just not right for the company, for the employee and for my value system. Having employees is an honor and doing right by employees is the honorable thing. For me, reaching out to them and encouraging them to overcome their weaknesses, particularly in the educational sphere, so that their accomplishments can match their dreams, is an moral imperative.
The King and I were once stuck in the “I can’t” mode, but it didn’t have to be that way and we didn’t let it remain so.
Check back for another post on “The Little Engine that Could.”