Updated: Jan 27
There’s a large oval scar on my head where my scalp was sewn back to my skull to prove it. The scalp wasn’t torn completely off, but peeled back from my head. So, yes. Seriously. My head was run over by a truck.
It was 1947, I was two years old when it happened, so I don’t remember a thing except what my family has told me. I was crossing our narrow dirt street in Austin, Texas, returning home from our neighbor’s house. I was hit by one of those vintage brown U.S. Mail trucks like this.
As I was crossing the street, the truck hit me (my head was at bumper level). As the truck rolled over me (I was in the center of the truck and not under the wheels) I was still conscious and quickly raised my head only to hit the metal transaxle with my head, caught my scalp on a steel bolt, concussed myself, and had my scalp peeled back from my head as I fell backwards. A three-day coma followed.
Long story short: I’m fine. In fact, my mom said I was a pretty ornery kid before that but after getting run over I seemed to have straightened out. “Of course,” I would remind her forever, “I was afraid you’d push me out in front of another truck.” (She never saw the humor in that. So guess the ornery wasn’t completely knocked out of me.)
Unlike many of my male cousins who are bald, I still have my hair which covers the scar. But when it’s been sheared (as part of our initiation as freshmen college football players; in Air Force basic training) that scar came in pretty handy. For some reason it seemed to intimidate others and they steered clear of me. Guess they believed me when I told them I was the one who won the knife fight.
It would take me years to understand how beliefs can be used to persuade. As a two-year old, I had no beliefs. I couldn’t put a noun and a verb together in a sentence, much less understand the concept of belief. However, as I got older I came to believe that if I walk in front of an oncoming truck, I will get hurt. My beliefs have persuaded me to never do that again.
If you’re trying to persuade someone not to do something, you have to make sure they understand what you’re talking about (don’t walk in front of a moving truck) and to believe that what can happen will happen if they do (you can get hurt).
An important thing about beliefs is that they can compel action. Beliefs motivate. Believing what you want to happen doesn’t mean that it will; but believing it could happen will help you find a way. And you don’t have to get run over by a truck to believe this.