Often when I'm traveling, I run into former students in airports. (There are many of them out there—I've been teaching for 15 years.) I'm always happy to see them and to catch up with what's going on in their lives. Many of these former students have had significant events in their lives since they graduated from Kellogg: getting new jobs, getting promoted, getting married, having children. But every few weeks, the encounter is a little different: for some of these former students, life hasn't turned out the way they expected.

I had one of these encounters while I was at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. A former student appeared tense and nervous, so when I asked him, “How's it going?” I was prepared to hear some bad news.

“To tell you the truth, not so good,” he told me. “I'm traveling all the time for my job. I have two young boys now and I have no relationship with them.” Then came the kicker: “Harry, I'm so surprised.”

I said I was sorry to hear that, then asked how much time he spends with his sons.

“I don't really spend any time with them at all. I'm hardly home.”

And I wondered: why is he surprised that he doesn't have a relationship with his sons?

Another incident occurred recently, just before class. I noticed one of my students was clearly upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me her grandfather had passed away a few days ago. It was such a shock, she said. She had wanted to spend more time with him, to get his insights on life, ...

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