Lessons in History

In school I always dreaded history class.  It was incredibly boring and I couldn’t find any purpose for really remembering any of the dates or old rulers.  They conquered, fought, lived, died, had kids, and made a mess of things. I’ve always had a big passion for learning about all things Ancient Egypt, Incas/Mayas/Aztecs and the Titanic, but given that those 3 topics weren’t covered very often in history class I wasn’t interested.  But my sophomore year in high school the history teacher changed my perspective.  He taught us about the Civil War and what I finally learned was that with each war, each civilization were individuals.  Abraham Lincoln, Mary Boykin Chestnut, Robert E Lee, Clara Barton: these are people with incredible stories that go beyond what we know of them generally, or about the battles and fighting of the Civil War era.  It was that history teacher’s passion for the individual people and their stories that convinced me to give general history another look.  I’m still not a fan of dates, but if you start talking with me about the people behind the dates I’ll give you my attention.

The difference, and this is something marketers have been reminded of of late, is that everyone has a story, something that makes dates, products and services relevant and interesting.  When you take the time to ask for and listen to the stories you’ll discover a world you never knew before.

I’ve always loved hearing stories and seeing pictures from my grandparents as children.  Their stories make the past seem more real and more relevant.  When something doesn’t seem relevant it’s hard to care, right?  Maybe you don’t want to hear stories of your grandparents, maybe you didn’t have a good upbringing.  It can be tough to watch those commercials about ancestry.com and other sites that help you connect with your history if you had a bad past.  But the truth is that there are black spots in every family.  No one is perfect.  But in most families there is at least one redeeming story, one that can make you proud to be who you are.

Being adopted or not knowing who your history belongs with can be tough too.  If that’s your case don’t be upset that you can’t know your history, instead plan to make a history that your ancestors can be proud of.