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What Will They Say About You?

You might feel this seems a little off topic from what you usually hear from me about organizing your time, spaces, and information, or being proactive and communicating well.

I don't agree. I think it's entirely relevant.

I recently attended a memorial.

It was drenching rain, gloomy, close, and humid. Pennsylvania in August can be very uncomfortable and the conditions contributed to the sadness of the day.

rain on a windshield
A muggy August Pennsylvania day

But I was glad I went. It was minor physical discomfort to honor a man who endured a lot during his final illness.

In retrospect, the biggest reason I am glad I attended was to hear everyone offer the same from-the-heart unbidden comments of respect. Not one platitude.

Let’s start with what they didn’t say.

· Yeah, he was always the last guy to show up, but we loved him anyway.

· Wow, did he had a temper, but we knew he liked us.

· His wife was a saint for dealing with him. (Said with a wry smile and rolling eyes.)

· He owed always owed me money and could never find his stuff, but that was him.

What they said was less intriguing yet far more powerful.

“Hugh was a reliably good and decent man. He never said a poor word about anyone. He got mad, yes, but he never held a grudge, despite the times he had ample reason. When he looked you in the eye, you knew he was focused completely on you and the potential for good in you.”

I wondered what he would have thought about what people said about him. I mused if the others questioned themselves as I did, “Do I earn as much appreciation and affection as he did? Do others feel good when we talk? Do I keep my temper in check and listen for the person behind the story?”

The positive things people said about Hugh put the attendees in an appreciative mood. There was healing and goodwill in the room, and I know he was smiling, too, to see people feel good coming together.

A masterful life doesn’t have to mean that you excel at woodworking, or parasailing, or write a great novel, although it might.

It doesn’t mean you make a mint of money or establish non-profits that feed millions, although it might.

It doesn’t mean your house is spotless and your finances are soaring, although it might.

What it means is that you do the best you can with what you’ve got—always, or as often as you can manage.

It means that you inspire yourself and others to live their best life through your dedication to demonstrating your core beliefs and values.

It means listening without being defensive and working to see the best in others. That you don’t call people names and question their intelligence when they disagree with you or make mistakes. That you strive to see the bigger picture and not get consumed by the small irritations of daily life.

Being masterful means owning up to who you are and trying to be, and do, better for yourself and for others.

It can be a tall order, and you can do it, one decision and one interaction at a time.

Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, this verse is timeless.

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails...

1 Corinthians 13:4-8


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