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A Little Happier: How Douglas Adams—Author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”—Gave Himself Confidence.


Few people can have as dramatic an influence on our fates as a really good teacher. And here’s a beautiful example of the power of a great teacher, from Douglas Adams.

Douglas Adams was the extraordinarily beloved author of many books, including the very popular novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Amazon, Bookshop).

When he was in school, he had a teacher as a child, Frank Halford, and in an essay that’s the Prologue to his book The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (Amazon, Bookshop), Adams recalls of his teacher:

He once gave me ten out of ten for a story, which was the only time he did throughout his long school career. And even now, when I have a dark night of the soul as a writer and think that I can’t do this anymore, the thing that I reach for is not the fact that I have had best-sellers or huge advances. It is the fact that Frank Halford once gave me ten out of ten, and at some fundamental level I must be able to do it.

So far back in Adams’s education and experience, the judgment of that one teacher gave Adams the confidence he needed throughout the entire rest of his life.

It’s a great reminder of the power of our words in other people’s lives—and especially, the words of teachers.

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