“If you don’t act like a king, nobody will respect you.” This is what my Grandfather told me when I was young. As a young boy he had been homeless living in New York City under a bridge and later became a WWII Veteran. By the 1980’s, he was a prominent businessman in his community who truly cared about all people.
I remember going everywhere with him and people stopping to talk to him, shake his hand, or ask his advice about some matter. I remember feeling frustrated by these constant interruptions and wondering to myself …can’t they see he is busy at the moment?
My Grandfather died in the summer of 2000. He not only had an outpouring of his community at his funeral, he left a heartbroken Granddaughter at his wake. You see, my Grandfather seemed such an enigma to me, a now lifeless man who had always been larger than himself. As I reflected upon his life, I realized that his success was truly measured by the respect he had earned throughout his community in treating others with dignity and honesty.
Now, in my late 20’s entering a career of my own, I struggle to earn the respect from my co-workers who are nearly twice my age and possess twice the amount of experience. I often think back to my Grandfather’s famous “king analogy” and use it as a measure of my actions. Taking time to listen and care about others is what is now shaping my professional experience. I believe my grandfather was right, respect is earned in your everyday actions.
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