Ok. We all have had people who have impacted our lives – parents, teachers, coaches, and so on. But, we often have one person who stands out as a primary impact on our life. For me, that was my grandmother Rose.
First, some background on Granma Rose. She was no ordinary Grandma. She lived until she was 88 years old, and was cleaning houses until she was in her 80′s. Can you imagine? She had to bury 5 of her children before she passed, and lost her husband 25 years before she would pass. Grandma Rose had a strong German heritage, and even today when I think to explain her in just a few words, I would call her a tough old broad with a heart!
Grandma Rose could be stern, but somehow found a soft way to convey her message to whoever was listening – and sometimes with added emphasis if one of us in the audience had recently made a mistake.
Lessons that Grandma Rose imparted…..
1) Respect your elders! I can laugh about this openly now, but at the time, I was 15 and EVERYONE was an elder to me. As you might imagine, it took me many years to understand her words on this one. Respect your elders, what would that mean to me? At this stage of my life, there are now many people who are younger than me and I find myself suddenly in the elder category! Back to the point – what is clear without question is that elders represent experience. Experience in EVERY facet of life and business. The elders around me were my parents, some teachers, some coaches and even some family friends and acquaintances. In business, they represented bosses, Managers and visionaries that had plenty to share. The real trick was to be open and willing to hear them out – a true challenge for a teenager, and even for someone into their 20′s. To me, it means to be humble, and not pretentious. Can you remember the last time you worked with someone that you found yourself ceding respect to? It is likely they found you to be a good follower, and someone they would invest in. There it is – respect for others/elders would manifest itself in more people willing to teach or coach us, particularly if we took what they said to heart and put it into action!
2) Take people at their word – but understand that what really matters is ACTION -this may have been the easiest lesson for me to comprehend, as action is easy to observe and easy to assess whether you want to be around people who act a certain way. When someone says they will do something and they do not complete it, you have an immediate reaction. Of course, when they do what they say we also have a clear action. This shows up all over the place – but New Year’s resolutions are a great example. Have you ever said something and NOT followed through with the appropriate action? How did that make you feel? Did you imagine loads of people wanting to follow that example?
3) A promise is a promise - this is similar to #2, but promises are more than action. Promises create trust; we can either trust when someone keeps their promise, or we can trust that they cannot keep their promise. Either way, we can trust people, but understanding the distinction between the two is significant. Being on time? Creates trust. Being late? Another type of trust. If you continue this one, it ends up being a stigma that others tell you to be there 15 minutes before the true time! Credit? Make your payments on time, and lenders and banks trust you. Make them late and your consequence is a higher interest rate, a higher payment or no financial assistance at all.
4) Give the world more than you take - As a young man, this was almost impossible to understand. Take all you can get, right? Well, as you age and mature, this becomes fairly easy to understand. When you give more than you receive, you are contributing: to the world, to your company, to your community, to your family. As a father, as a brother, as a son, as a resident, whenever we give more than we receive you add to others and their life. There is an interesting benefit to this, an inner peace that we get by being able to rise above our own needs or wants and we do it without expectation of a return.
5) Love with ALL of your heart - This one also took a while to sink in – and as we mature it is possible to lose in love. Give and you may get burned. But the fundamental of it was the art of selflessness. Being able to give of your self, to give your heart where your partner receives your attention, efforts and affection. Grandma Rose was expert at this – she could find a silver lining in the blackest of clouds. What a skill that was! She meant that loving your partner, your children, your siblings, the concept was the same – find it easy to forgive, find it easy to listen, find it easy to appreciate.
Final Musings -
I speculate that we all have people like Grandma Rose in our lives. Perhaps we did not recognize it in the moment, and it took many years to have a full appreciation of that someone. Who are they in your life? Are they still alive, or better still, in your life today? What lessons or messages have they shared? Did it impact your personal life? How did it impact your business dealings? Were you fair, open, and appreciative of efforts that others made on your behalf? If she were hear today, I would tell her that she was MUCH smarter than I realized, and I can imagine her smiling – even laughing out loud at me.