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The Master's True Burden: A Lesson From Star Wars

“We are what they grow beyond, that is the true burden of all masters.”

In the Last Jedi Star Wars film, Master Yoda teaches Luke Skywalker a message to inspire and humble all masters -- teachers, coaches, counselors, leaders, parents. A master must always balance ego with humility. Even as they gain more mastery, they must remain humble. They do not need to be perfect, simply pass on what they have learned, both strengths and weaknesses.

We are reminded that perfection is neither possible nor necessary in life. We are all simply human, and to be human is to be imperfect. Even those we call masters are imperfect. We need to forgive ourselves for being vulnerable, humanly imperfect, for failing, and do our best to meet the next challenge in life. Leaders of any kind do not need to be perfectly strong but just wholly dedicated to enabling and empowering their students to fulfill their potential. Hopefully, our students surpass us in greatness.

Today I’m celebrating my student, Walter Thompson-Hernandez, and the publication of his book, The Compton Cowboys. I’ve watched him grow through his student days from budding academic scholar to rejecting that path and finding his authentic self by becoming a writer for The New York Times, as a gifted storyteller. Walter’s stories come from the people he meets and gets to know, giving voice to the humanity and struggles of those most alienated, oppressed and marginalized. A multi-media artist, his work honors the lives of people and communities where compassion and belonging exist along with the trauma and tragedy of city life.

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