Article Date: 6/1/2004

lessons learned
Learning a Lesson from Lincoln
Don't take success to seriously.
By Jack Runniger, O.D.

In a debate during their presidential campaign, Stephen Douglas accused Abraham Lincoln of being two-faced.

"Obviously not true," replied the less-than-handsome Lincoln. "If I was two-faced, do you think I would be wearing this one?"

Many stories illustrate Lincoln's self-deprecating wit. The anecdote reminds me that almost all highly successful persons I've known have had a good sense of humor and didn't take themselves too seriously.


Taste the soup

Many good examples exist within the optometric profession. Dr. Irv Borish is undoubtedly the most important and influential O.D. of the past more than 50 years; Drs. Bill Baldwin and Irving Bennett are not far behind. I've found that each of these highly successful optometrists has a delightful sense of whimsy. For example:

The Baldwins, my wife and I took Dr. Borish out to dinner for his 91st birthday while attending an elder hostel together in Florida last January. Studying the menu reminded him of a story, which he related to us:

"Taste the soup!" said the wizened little old man to the waiter.

"Is it too highly seasoned?" asked the waiter.

"Taste the soup!"

"Is it too cold?"

"Taste the soup!"

"Okay, okay. Where's the spoon?"

"Aha!" replied the little old man triumphantly.

Quick thinking

"What was it that Europeans imported to this continent in the 17th century?" the professor asked our class at this same elder hostel. He was looking for an answer of "Cotton." The answer he got from Dr. Baldwin, which broke up the class, was "Syphilis."

During an elder hostel the previous year, the "entertainment" one evening consisted of a recital by a lady singer. Her lack of talent was exceeded only by her joy at having a captive audience.

"Are there any requests?" she inquired after an hour or so of off-key renditions. Unfortunately, there were a couple of obviously tone- deaf idiots in the audience who kept making requests for the next 30 minutes. Finally when she again asked for a request, before the two idiots could speak up, Dr. Baldwin called out, "How about 'Good Night, Ladies?'"

A bad bet

Irv Bennett has a great knack for using humor to make important points in his lectures. In pointing out the necessity of using your head to get ahead, I heard him use the following illustration:

An attorney phoned a bank president to tell him, "I have an elderly client who is coming to see you this afternoon to open an account. She is bad to gamble, and I'd like for you to point out to her the dangers of doing so."

"I understand you do a lot of gambling," said the banker to the lady when she arrived. "Just what do you bet on?"

"Almost anything," she replied. "I'll bet you $5,000 that you're wearing polka dot undershorts."

"I'll take that bet," said the banker as he dropped his trousers sufficiently to show that he was wearing plain shorts.

"I think I've just cured your client of gambling," the banker later phoned the lawyer, and explained about the shorts bet.

"Oh, no!" exclaimed the lawyer. "She bet me $10,000 that she could get you to drop your pants within 30 minutes of meeting you!"

Jack Runniger, our consulting editor, lives in Rome, GA.  He's also a past editor of OM.


Optometric Management, Issue: June 2004