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Paul Suchy: The Magic of Success

Posted on 10 August 2017

As a kid, I used to mistake successful people for magicians. And in hindsight it makes sense that I would think that because in my world it wasn’t the norm to see people trying to affect change or holding an impactful position.

While some of these people may wield some type of magic or know a lucrative secret, I’ve come to learn that success is relative and being a good person depends on one expectation: I can do better for the world.

The people who made me who I am today are the same people that I disregarded as a child because I didn’t have the capacity to appreciate what they were doing for me. My younger self couldn’t understand the role that they were playing, let alone why they were playing it.

Egon Singerman is one of those people that you think about whenever you wonder where your good fortune came from. My 9th grade public speaking teacher Jessica Tresko is also one of those people. I think about her whenever I go through my list of moments in high school that I could have fell through the cracks. She taught me how to be accountable for myself and to do what I can with what I have. I’m not sure if that was her intention, but regardless, it was the outcome.

These two people stand out for the simple reason that they taught me how to expect better from myself. This concept is powerful – dare I say magical. It is the foundation of growth and prosperity. To “expect better from yourself” is a difficult concept for children to grasp. It’s also a difficult concept for adults to grasp.

Egon is a lawyer by trade with a heart of gold. He has a knack for solving problems and keeping cool-headed in the face of stress. He pushed me to succeed by constructively reinforcing my interests and constantly reminding me of my strengths. This was especially true during my bouts of adversity which very well could have broken me

He would check in with me by expressing interest in my work and concern for my well-being. When we first met, he said something like, “are you doing your best in school”. I would think, “well I show up”. He would say, “I believe you can do better. It’s okay if you get a C. That’s alright but just see how well you can do if you try harder”.

After every conversation him and I had, I would leave feeling inspired and empowered to go after anything I set my mind to. Before I met him, I was reckless and oppositional – I couldn’t listen to anyone. Learning the hard way was my forte (and may still be).

Jessica Tresko was my teacher, but in the classroom, she was a student first. She always stepped out of the traditional pedagogy to learn with her students, learn about her students and learn how her students learned. I believe these are the most important steps to take in being effective in anything we do.

She understood how my life outside of school hindered my ability to really show up. Her solution was to sympathize with what I was going through. She and I would work through my problems and she would reserve her judgement. She helped me identify why I was causing trouble in class and why I avoided being my best self. I don’t believe I would be doing what I do today if I didn’t meet her.

While many people have shaped me into who I am today, it’s the values that Egon and Jessica taught me that come to mind when I think about who I am. What they did was exceptionally meaningful because they listened to what I said without judgement, and while doing so they taught me to expect more from myself.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I can wield magic, but I do think I know somewhat of a secret.

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