I must confess, before I had children, I don’t recall reading a lot of Dr. Seuss. Sure, every Christmas, I’d dress up in my red flannel onesie with a bowl of popcorn, cuddle up under a blankie and watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” but beyond that, meh, I had no reason to crack open any of his books.
They say having children changes you.
And yes, there are the physical changes that happen, of course. But my musical horizons were also broadened. I’d catch myself humming ditties like, “Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga” while standing in the check-out lane at Walmart.
And when it came to reading, forget the literary greats. My kids knew what they wanted to hear – and they wanted to hear it again and again! So after the 87th time through “Green Eggs and Ham,” I began to see life lessons embedded in the pages. Now, it could have been sleep deprivation, I dunno.
And so this post is dedicated to Dr. Seuss for the pearls of wisdom gleaned from countless hours in a rocking chair, willing my kids to fall asleep.
1. On having integrity
No doubt that Horton is a stand-up kind of elephant. He’s the kind of elephant you’d want in your corner if ever the chips were down. Why I love this book, and its lesson within, is because it emphasizes the importance of keeping our word.
Horton made a promise to take care of this egg and despite all the challenges he faces during the 51 weeks he is perched on top of the egg, his resolve never flounders.
It’s a tale of love, loyalty and devotion, one that pays off in the end. Because of Horton’s fortitude, he ends up hatching …
Well, wait, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go get the book.
2. On playing the comparison game
The lessons learned in this Dr. Seuss classic are not specific to the travel industry, but I had to include it given the tumultuous year that we’ve had.
What a prophetic piece The Sneetches turned out to be. The story is about these creatures who live on a beach. Some have stars on their bellies and others do not. Those with stars deem themselves better than the rest. And then along comes this entrepreneurial soul who exploits the fears that exist on either side of these two factions.
Now, would a 5-year-old be able to pick up on the nuances described in this story…not so sure? But wow, when you think of just how polarized our society has become, it’s a pretty prescient piece.
3. On being limited, only by your own thoughts
Oh, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they? In true Dr. Seuss style, “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think,” is filled with silly puns and rhymes, and it challenges the reader to unravel all the world’s philosophical questions by simply using the imagination.
4. On creating a travel business with purpose
“The Lorax” is one of my most favourite Dr. Seuss books. Its message centres around respecting our environment, but it does go beyond that. Regardless of the type of travel business we end up operating, we need to keep our eye on sustainable practices.
Few will argue that the global pandemic gave our earth a much-needed breather from the scourges of over-tourism. We’ll need to question how we move forward consciously, careful not to repeat the same mistakes.
5. On being a lifelong-learner
This book does a great job of summarizing the importance of continuing to invest in ourselves. As travel professionals, the classroom assignments never end. Those who continue to broaden their knowledge and continue their education, even when their workday is complete, will achieve exponential success.
6. On taking action
Similar to the Nike slogan…” Just do it”, this Dr. Seuss beginner’s book challenges its reader to take chances.
Often, we don’t go after the things we want because we are paralyzed by fear. We get scared when we aren’t 100% sure of the outcome, so instead of taking risks; we stagnate. “Will You Please Go Now” pushes us to jump and have faith that there is a net below.
Fun Fact: A couple of years after its initial publication, and during the height of the Watergate scandal, Dr. Seuss did a satirical parody of the book in which he replaces the protagonist, Marvin K Mooney, with then-president, Richard Nixon, begging him to just leave office and resign.
7. On offering something niche and special
A few weeks ago, I dove into the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy and how it pertains to the travel industry. Blue Ocean Strategy challenges us to take what we know to be the way things are and twist them into something new.
“If I Ran the Zoo,” is a story about a young boy, Gerald McGrew, who challenges the status quo. He doesn’t want to accept things as they are. He knows he can do better. And in the end, the crowds love and adore him. It’s not that dissimilar to the way Cirque du Soleil modernized the antiquated circus. I wonder if Guy Laliberte, Gilles Ste-Croix and Daniel Gauthier all fell asleep while listening to, “If I Ran the Zoo?” as children.
Fun Fact: The word “nerd” first came into existence as one of the creatures in Gerald McGrew’s zoo.
8. Stop waiting for your life to happen
Incidentally, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” was the last book Dr. Seuss published before he died at the age of 87, and today, it remains his most purchased. On average, over 200,000 copies per year are sold – mostly due to the fact that it makes a perfect graduation gift. It is my personal favourite.
The reason why I teased out this passage amongst all the pages is that it resonated the most with me. Have you ever noticed how many people talk about how they wish they could make life changes? Yet they do nothing to change things. Instead, they wait. They wait for someone to come and drop opportunity at their door, offer them a promotion, hand over a lucky break. They are always waiting. And sadly, 30 years from now, they’ll still be waiting.
I love what I once heard Jonathan Winters say…” If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it!”
Yes, I learned a lot from Theodor Seuss Geisel, the least of which was — there is no problem that can’t be solved by turning it into a verse that rhymes with ga-fluppted or gluppity-glup.
And turns out, Dr. Seuss wasn’t even a doctor at all but he sure could have been.
Do you have a favourite Dr. Seuss book? Why not share it in the comments below.