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Lead the Way You Want to Be Remembered

Jim Mahoney Teaching

Lead the Way You Want to be Remembered

David Brooks, NYT columnist, wrote an opinion piece a few years back that began:

 “About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel valued and funny. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all. “

He further acknowledges he hasn’t achieved that “ generosity of spirit “ and that people have two sets of virtues. One set is resume virtues that include your skills and achievements. The other set is eulogy virtues describing the kind of person you are to others. It is the latter set that Brooks and I agree on— they are the most important. My illustration is both personal and timely.

Brook’s introduction to his piece could have described two of my former colleagues who passed away last month. One was a long time high school principal and the other a former principal with many years as a central office administrator. Both had been teachers, head coaches, and full of accomplishments. Still, I think they both would have been pleased by what was written by others about them on their tribute wall created by funeral homes. Here is a sampling:

 “ We learned so much from him. Not just from the quality of his instruction, but from the depth and strength of his character."

“...his joy was contagious. Simply put, he was a community treasure.”

“He was the best teacher ...never seemed to be in a bad mood...had such enthusiasm for what he was doing."

“...a damn fine man. Thanks for the LESSONS! "

All eulogy virtues. In fact, nearly all the comments were of the same flavor about two men whom had accomplished so much. League championship as coaches. School awards while principals. Outstanding administrator awards.  Sound resume virtues but people recalled who they were, how they made them feel, and what they observed first hand over time about them.

Author Brene’ Brown suggests “ who you are is how you lead “. That has always rung true for me and especially now for these two talented leaders whose enthusiasm, joy, and contributions have been stilled but never forgotten. Who they were is what will be remembered mostly by others. My leadership moment is pretty simple. Live and lead the way you want to be remembered. Because you will be.

Rest in peace, Jim Zechiel and Gary Lucas.