Who knew that being great was all about how you make others feel? If you think about it, though, that’s exactly what greatness is. Let’s ponder this with Joan.
Joan: I recently heard about the passing of a man to whom I was introduced a few years ago. We met when I had just created the CYACYL brand and I was unsure about how I would proceed. He had media experience and professional contacts and offered advice and support. He even introduced me to a few people that later went on to become guests of the show.
Q. When someone passes, it is hard. But why did you feel so close to him?
Joan: I was not what one would consider a close friend of this man and our contact was limited to sporadic phone calls or periodic emails and Facebook messages, but when we were in communication, he always made me feel like I could accomplish anything. His words were so kind and reassuring and he had such a gentle nature about him that one couldn’t help but be drawn to him.
Q. There had to be something special about him to have it hit you so hard, though, no?
Joan: When I heard that he passed away, and at a young age, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t understand why his death had such a deep impact on me. Afterall, we weren’t particularly close. Then I realized that he approached life with love and kindness and an open heart. He would do anything he could to help another person, even an acquaintance. He looked for the upside of life and really seemed to savor the moment. He was grateful for what he had and treasured his family and friends.
Q. Can you describe his specialness to you?
Joan: Even during his physical challenges and progressing illness, he maintained his faith and a positive attitude. Every time I was around him, even briefly, I left a better person. He made me feel special. I would miss that.
Perhaps Maya Angelou summed it up best when she said, “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.”
Often we touch others in ways we will never know. A smile, an extended hand, a kind word or gesture, support, an invitation. Simple things in life, that we take for granted, that can mean the world to someone else.
Q. At times, anyone can feel very small and useless, can you tell us why any one person can make that difference and “be great”?
Joan: We all have tremendous power over one another. Our words and actions can reinforce the courage to press on or provide one more reason to give up. We can extinguish the flame of pain and suffering or be the one to add another log to the fire. We can offer light in a time of darkness or build another layer to a wall of isolation.
When your life comes to an end, how do you want to be remembered? Me? I want to be remembered as being GREAT because as Mark Twain said, “Really GREAT people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”