When Ricky Borba was 12, he founded The Butt Warmers Club - a group of four guys who found comfort and companionship sitting on top of the archaic radiator in the back of our English classroom.
It wasn't the last thing he founded. Ricky, now 44, has a production company (Ricky Borba Films) and is currently directing Sunday, Sunday a major motion picture.
I didn't become a teacher to make friends, let alone be inspired by a wise-cracking (but fun) 12-year-old boy. Yet, here I am 32 years later trying to learn from Ricky what it takes to succeed when reaching for something big. Something that barely even seems possible.
Back when I had Ricky, I was just beginning to teach what would become one of my favorite lessons, "major in success" -- study what's successful (in your eyes), especially successful people. People who have already done what you want to do.
What are they doing?
What aren't they doing?
I don't want to be a director. But succeeding in Ricky's field is even harder than doing what I want to do - sell books and then talk about them.
I'm confident that I can write. I'm not confident that I sell. I don't know how.
Each year, on the first day of school, kids lined up at my classroom door. Not because they wanted to. Because they had to. Because I mostly taught required classes - English and Social Studies - very few of my students were there by choice. I didn't have to recruit.
I'm at a point in life when I thought I'd be giving advice, not asking for it. When I thought I'd be done with personal dreams.
Since I don't think I am, I need to ask Ricky two questions,
1. Mr. Director, how can I get my work out into the world?
2. How did you handle it/persist/go on/keep striving when you were being ghosted and rejected?
Pupil, teach me.
Ricky on set
This is the first in what I hope will be a series of "By Your Pupils You'll Be Taught" posts where I'll share the achievements and wisdom of students turned friends and mentors. The catch is, starting with Ricky, you have to not only answer my questions, but be willing to share your ideas with your "classmates."
Are you interested in connecting to a community of alumni students that asks and answers each other's life-enhancing questions?