Aretha Franklin had it right when she belted out “R.E.S.P.E.C.T., find out what it means to me”. There are so many aspects to the positive ramifications when respect is shown. And, defining how to show respect can cover many kinds and ways to show respect… of others. It is in this feeling of worth, that someone thinks enough of you to respect your opinion, your choices, your ideas….. it is in this feeling of worth that so many good things can be made to seem even better.
On a recent trip to Dallas for one of my clients, AXXESS Technology Solutions, I was privileged to be asked to attend an award ceremony for their CEO, John Olajide, who was being honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from UT Dallas. Now, I have been to lots of award ceremonies, but this one stood out because of the respect shown for this young man who has been so successful in building a business that is changing the way that home health care is delivered in our country.
Many of the village elders from his Nigerian roots made the trek to Dallas to show their respect for his accomplishments. His father, who had never been to the US before was in the entourage, as were one of his early teachers, and longtime family friends. Now, traveling from Africa to Dallas for a ceremony is one way to establish that there is respect, but, even more so was what those gentleman said about their successful son, and how they dressed, in native hand-embroidered robes that were some of the finest material I have ever seen and touched.
The elders told stories about their memories of a young Olajide, and his drive and determination even as a little boy. They also spoke of a Nigerian concept of family that extends beyond the blood lines and covers those who care enough about you to watch your back, support you, and be there for you. I loved that aspect of the culture, as it was obvious from the love shown to their distinguished son that they were all a part of that extended family, and, by including some of us from work in that inner circle, we were also considered a part of the larger family.
But, more about respect. It was so obvious that the honoree felt that he had not achieved his success alone, rather that he had listened to his elders, his employees, his neighbors and he humbly recognized many in the audience who had supported him and stood by him in the beginning when things were not so clear that he would be such a raging success in his business.
That one event and the residuals from the positive experiences abounding will carry on with me and will be yet another experience that leads me to where I am destined to go. And showing respect and expecting to be respected when it is appropriate will be behaviors from this moment forward.
Ageism at its core is a lack of respect. Negating the years of wisdom. Negating the experiences and life’s work. And, the wonders that come from showing respect can be more than ever expected. For, you see, feeling respected makes one feel important, and feeling important and respected brings about positives that are unimaginable. Seeing people for who they are and respecting what they are saying and feeling is, at its core, showing respect.