First Word: Good and nice

Everyone needs a critic, the one person in your life who will tell you what they think about you, right or wrong. In my life, that person is my brother. He gets the magazine, and most of the time has nothing but praise for the editorial content and graphics. But recently he told me my column was “esoteric.”

Now my definition of esoteric means either “over one’s head” or “out in left field.” The last one is probably the way my brother meant it. Alas, there are some things you just don’t try to explain, and I chose not to answer him in this particular case.

For me there are some things you feel, and others you know. In this column, I relate some of the things I feel from time to time, like fear and doubt. The things I know, however, are the truth, or at least as I perceive it. For instance, some of my truths are that I believe having a strong character is a sign of excellence and attitude can help overcome any obstacle.

I recently talked to someone in the medical field about a particular doctor who was recommended as an excellent surgeon. During the conversation, I questioned this person about this doctor’s bedside manner. I wanted to know how he treated his patients in such areas as good communication and proper social etiquette. This person then asked me, “Do you want a good doctor or just a nice guy?” I answered that I wanted both.

A person’s character determines what he or she is truly like. That special spark in people of character is what generates passion, enthusiasm and an attitude that causes everyone who comes in contact with them to feel better about themselves afterwards. People of character are able to connect their head with their heart, making good use of their God-given talents and intellect, all while validating everyone around them.

Frank Maguire’s book, “You’re the Greatest,” has been a real source of inspiration to me in this area. Frank was involved in the start up of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Fed-Ex, and everywhere Frank has been, he put people first. Frank believes you can affect the bottom line most dramatically in a particular business by validating how much people mean to the organization. While there are those corporate types who think this whole validation theory is soft and has nothing to do with business, Frank also found it amusing those same tough corporate heads couldn’t understand why they didn’t enjoy employee or customer loyalty. He contends your employees will treat your customers just like you treat them – as well or as poorly. And he quoted an anonymous source when he said “fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and money takes wings… The only thing that endures is character.” My mother used to tell me when everything else is gone, all any of us have is our reputation. If nothing else, my brother the critic may also remember Mom’s words of wisdom.