"Your grandpa would be so proud of you."
I think every grandchild wants to hear those words. For what it’s worth, I would have preferred to hear it somewhere other than his funeral. Regardless, the idea that I had done well delivering his eulogy and a song was a salve in a difficult time.
My grandpa Howard had a special gift for encouraging you to pursue things that you were good at, but that the rest of the world might not be so supportive. It’s because of that gift and approach that he had a unique relationship with everyone he met. If you’ll take a moment with me to understand the simple, powerful effectiveness of his method, I guarantee your life will be blessed.
The idea of having a unique relationship with everyone in your life is a little intimidating at first. Afterall, who wants keep track of how we act around all the people we meet? That’s the cool part… we don’t have to. To achieve this feat of making every person feel special, grandpa never had to keep track of how he acted because he was always himself!
Rule #1 for having a special, individual relationship with everyone is to always be yourself.That won’t always be popular, but it will make sure that you always walk in integrity. A multitude of sins and mishaps are forgiven of the man who walks in integrity.
The closest thing to a front or facade that I’ve ever seen my grandpa put up was silence. If he didn’t like, agree, or appreciate something you had to say, he would consider if your relationship was strong enough to withstand the conflict. If so, he let you know his thoughts. If not, he was quiet. "Why waste my time with someone who isn’t going to do anything with the conversation?" was his reasoning.
This way, no matter when or where you met, he would always be ready to give his best because there was no concern for who he needed to be. The only thing grandpa needed to know was who you were when you showed up.
Rule #2 for having a special, individual relationship with everyone is to base the relationship on them, not you. When you show up as yourself all the time, you eliminate a lot of the variables that derail most people. Instead, you can focus on who you are interacting with and what they bring to the table. What are their needs, wants, desires…
Our job isn’t to make all their dreams come true, but to simply apply our best selves to the moment at hand. Know yourself so well that you can focus on the people around you.
Rule #3 for having a special, individual relationship with everyone is to do all you do in love. Sappy, right? But it’s completely true and one of the most overlooked tools in bag. Grandpa told me more than once that his business transactions weren’t based on getting the most he could from the deal. He looked at people and listened to understand what they needed and found a way for both to come out ahead.
He didn’t call it, ‘love,’ because he was entirely to stern to see it as such. That’s exactly what it was though. One instance that stands out in my mind of this operating philosophy.
Grandpa was approached by a local man about cutting timber from our farm. The history of people coming in and ripping my beloved woods apart wasn’t good. My dad and I were aggrevated by the situtation, but grandpa went ahead. Later, I asked him what made him do it.
"I just don’t understand why you turned somebody loose on timber. What was the driving force? Did you need the money?"
"No," he said a little indignently. "I didn’t need the money…he did!"
There is a real possibility that you will be taken advantage of occassionally. The hard news is, that will happen whether you follow these rules or not. On the balance, you will undoubtedly come out ahead by sticking to them.
- Always be yourself.
- Base relationships on them.
- Do everything in love.