With Her Dying Breath, She Whispered These Four Powerful Words to Her Daughter


Lucy Stone (August 13, 1818 – October 19, 1893) was a prominent American orator, abolitionist, and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women. In 1847, Stone became the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She spoke out for women’s rights and against slavery at a time when women were discouraged and prevented from public speaking. Stone was known for being the first American woman to use her maiden name after marriage, as the custom was for women to take their husband’s surname.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Lucy Stone until I read Originals by Adam Grant. Stone is prominently featured in a chapter that looks at how originals form alliances to advance their goals, and how they overcome the barriers that prevent coalitions from succeeding.. The chapter argues that building effective coalitions involves striking a delicate balance between venerable virtues and pragmatic policies, that common tactics can be more influential than common values, and why it’s often easier to partner with enemies than frenemies.

Lucy Stone sounds like an amazing woman, but what resonated with me the most as I read about her was that in her dying breath in 1893, Stone whispered four words to her daughter:

“Make the world better.”

Such simple, but powerful words.

Is there any higher calling than making the world better?

And I thought of all the places and times such a phrase could be used.

It’s the perfect graduation speech; there would be no need to say anything else.

When you hold your newborn child for the first time, you can whisper those words in her ear.

It seems like the phrase would be the perfect way to start off every meeting, as a way to remind people of the big picture, and to have them united in that common mission.

It seems like the perfect way for a newscaster to sign off a broadcast, and in my case, the perfect way to end a blog.

Make the world better.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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