Friday, June 6, 2014

What others remember

I just can't resist one more quote from Maya Angelou, who died last week. She was such a prolific poet and writer—and left us with so many inspiring thoughts.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel," Angelou said.

Most of us think long and hard about what we say and what we write. Will my words make me look intelligent? Will they inspire and impress others?

We also spend a good deal of time thinking about what we do. Will this career choice bring me more money? Power? Will I get praise if I volunteer with this organization? What if I bake the best desserts for the family reunion or block party? Will joining this group look good on my resume?

So isn't it humbling to think that those things aren't what will be remembered? I do believe Angelou is right: How we make others feel is what will be remembered.  I am more impressed by the leader who treats everyone the same—from the maintenance person to the administrative assistant to the CEO—than I am by the leader who appears erudite, well-spoken and in control. I am far more impressed by those who are gracious and take time to listen than I am by those who are on every committee and whose to-do lists are several pages long. It's really about the love in their heart.

I will never forget my first day on a new job while I was in the midst of my divorce. A colleague sat down in front of my desk, pointed to a photo of my three sons and said, "Tell me about this picture." I felt so welcomed and cared for by that simple move. I still remember that woman for how good she made me feel that day. She helped me forget my fears about the new job. In that moment she helped me forget the trauma of my life. She reminded me of the three precious guys in my life, and she helped me feel accepted.

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