What you can take with you…

August 20, 2020

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote from Denzel Washington – “You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” 

It certainly reinforces the truth that one can’t take possessions with them when they die. Even the world’s richest man will be penniless when he stands before St Peter at the pearly gates or before God on his judgement day.

But, there is something that you do take with you to the grave and it doesn’t require a trailer to carry. That something is your reputation – the memories and thoughts that you leave behind with those still on earth – the impressions that you made. That reputation – the record of how you lived your life – is what St. Peter really looks at when deciding if you get through the gates and into heaven. What will your reputation say about you?

Strip away all of the business accomplishments and successes, all of the sports or academic accomplishments, all of the accumulated and prized possessions and what you have left is what was important all along – the impact that your life had on the lives of others.

Was yours a life of striving for accomplishments and reward or one of impacting other people in a positive and supportive  way. Did you receive positional respect or deference out of fear or earn the respect and love of those that you served or helped? Will the obituary in people’s minds when they hear you have passed be “so what” or maybe “good riddance” or will it be one  of fond memories and statements that “he/she will be missed”? Are you consciously striving towards goals of material success or perhaps unconsciously building a reputation as a caring and loving spouse, parent and friend?

There is no reason that one cannot be conscious of the impact that they are having on those with whom they interact. In fact, it is a good idea to put some  thought into that impact before acting.

Maybe as you start your day with as little prayer you can ask for God’s help to be more compassionate, inclusive and unbiased during the day. Ask God to help you be more aware of the needs of others and more willing to act on those needs in your actions and reactions during the day. The simple act of listening can be a powerful starting point. Taking the time to listen to others helps you be aware of he needs all around you. Taking the next step and acting to help with those needs makes a positive impression of being concerned, caring and compassionate. In addition to the Great Commandment to love one another, we were admonished in the Bible – “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

The impressions that you leave behind with the people who lives you touch is the only thing that follows you to the grave. Amassing a consistent collection of those good impressions builds a reputation.  What will be the reputation that you take with you? Will you need a U-Haul to carry all of the good impressions that people had of you? After all that is all that you can take with you.

Work on what we earn in life…

April 21, 2016

“Talent is God-given; be humble.  Fame is man-given; be grateful.  Conceit is self-given; be careful.”  (John Wooden) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.kissing mirror

Aside from conceit, the quote above talks of things that we are given in life. I think it is also important to look at the things that we must earn in life, like respect and trust and love. No one that we meet will give us any those three things without us doing something, usually over time, to prove that we deserve them. Usually people that a measure of you over time and watch your actions to see if they match or exceed your words before they respect or trust you. In relationships those two always come before the third thing that we earn which is love.

Another thing that comes to mind when discussing those three things is that children’s song The Ittsy Bittsy Spider. Respect, trust and love can all be lost in and instant, just as mistakrethe rain washed the spider out of the water spout; and then, like the spider we have to start all over to earn them again. All it takes to destroy a hard earned reputation or the trust of others is one mistake or bad decision. Sometimes love is also lost due to things that negatively impact the trust and respect that those who loved you had for you.

So, we must always be mindful of the impact of our decisions and the actions that we take in front of others. Unlike conceit it’s not just about us; it’s about what others will think of us. The other thing to consider is how long lasting the consequences of a poor decision can be. The foolish acts of young men or women can stay with them for a lifetime, especially if they result in a criminal record. There appears to be no amount of good that one can do to cover up a moment of bad, if the bad concerned certain things. Once a reputation is ruined or trust is lost the best that one can hope fort is a second chance to earn that trust back and establish a new reputation going forward.

So take coach Wooden’s words of wisdom to heart but also be mindful of the things that are in your control (which actually includes the conceit part of his quote) and focus on making decisions in life that help build trust and establish a good reputation. From that base, hopefully you can then also earn the love of another.

As Warren Buffet put it – “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

And Steven Covey had this to say about trust – ‘Trust is the glue of life. It’s the mosttrust
essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

And finally…”Trust lies at the core of love; there can be no true love without trust.” -M.K. Soni

Work on earning the things that are important in life today…

Are you a character or do you have character?

December 2, 2015

Character is an interesting topic to discuss. It is essentially an internal trait that manifests itself in the eyes of others in the form of reputation.  Abraham Lincoln put it this way –

“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”

antSome people get reputations that are good. Others may use terms to describe these people such as dependable, reliable, hard-working, concerned, compassionate and on and on. That’s having a good reputation based upon good character. For others the resulting reputation is not so great. Terms used tolazy describe them may include lazy, undependable, a no-show, flaky, self-centered, selfish or diva.

So, while character and reputation oft go hand-in-hand; sometimes people may just misunderstand your actions or lack of action. You may get an undeserved reputation and you sometimes just have to let some of that run off your back. There is an old say that you need to be true to yourself. You know what’s in your heart, even if it never makes it out onto your sleeve.

John Wooden had a good take on the character/reputation duality –

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

You often hear that character is built through hard work or that it comes out of dealing with adversity. Hard work is also what shows off your character –

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: Some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses and some don’t turn up at all.”  (Sam Ewing – baseball player) – seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words Blog.

If you don’t show up at all or turn up your nose at hard work you soon gain a reputation as being a “fair weather friend” or maybe no friend at all. You become a character, rather than someone with character

helping upThen there is the side of your character that begets a reputation for being a genuinely good person, someone who cares and acts out of that compassion; someone who is not just focused upon things and people who can advance their own cause; someone who does not take advantage just because the opportunity presents itself. Abigail Van Buren (of Dear Abbey fame) put it this way –

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

So; what do people think of you? Do they see you as a person of good character or just as a character? Do they see a person who works hard or a person who hardy works? Do they see your shadow or the strong, dependable truck of your tree?  Do you turn up your sleeves and jump in to help or jump back and turn up your nose; or do you just not turn up at all. It’s your character and your reputation and both are up to you. John C. Geikie put it this way

Our character is but the stamp on our souls of the free choices of good and evil we have made through life.”

Perhaps the stamps that we collect on our souls are like the hand stamps passed stampthat you get at an event venue when you leave and want to re-enter; only, in this case, we’re not trying to get back in to this venue, but to get to another, much bigger and better venue; one that we will stay in forever. So, we’d better make sure that we make the right choices and collect the right stamps on our souls. Don’t be a character; develop good character.

Have a great, character building rest of the week.