83 year old University of North Carolina basketball coach died February 27, 2015. He had a deserved reputation of being a spectacular coach. During his 36 years with the Tar Heels he won two national championships. Everyone considered him a class act. But no one knew his reputation as a winner would increase after his death.
Yesterday the internet revealed Smith had set up a trust fund for each of his former 180 college players. He had the trust set up so each would receive a $200 check inviting them to “enjoy a dinner out” with the money. Dean Smith was a class act, even after death.
This simple act of generosity prompted me to wonder “what made him a class act even in death?” Here’s what I came up with:
A class act is someone who recognizes people need to be honored.
Everyone likes a pat on the back. But most people are so focused on themselves they have no thought of honoring others. They babble on and on while dishonoring the one endures the endless torrent of words.
Find simple ways to honor the people you meet each day.
- Give sincere compliments.
- When the person you are chatting with makes a good point express your admiration.
- Let them vocalize the bright idea you were about to say.
- Don’t interrupt them.
A class act is a person who includes both winners and whiners.
It’s easy to focus on the winners. How hard is it to thank the basketball player who made the winning basket in the championship game? But I’m guessing in his career there were some whiners on Smith’s teams. And yet he included them in his will. He included both winners and whiners.
If you want to become a class act, don’t just focus on the winners. Encourage the whiners. Reach out to them. Honor them. Let them know you value them. Do not overlook the ones who stand in the background.
A class act looks down the road, thinks of others, and plans ahead.
Smith’s foresight to write all of his players into his will amazes me. That’s remarkable planning. Even as he planned the last details of his life he thought of others. And as he thought of others he made corresponding plans. Classy. Very Classy.
Think of the people in your life. Don’t wait until you are dead to honor them. What can you do now to encourage, help, or show respect to them? Take a few moments and dream up an answer. If this idea is new to you make it simple. Maybe it’s as simple as planning today to tell everyone you talk to, “Thanks for sharing that!”
A class act does not stop with talk, he or she ACTS.
Dean Smith didn’t just think of a great plan he did it. And it took some effort. He had to think through the best way to make it happen. He had to contact an attorney with instructions to write into his will these words “enjoy a dinner out.” He acted on a great idea.
It isn’t enough to dream up good ideas on becoming a class act. You must act on it. Concoct a plan, simple or complex, and do it. The only way you can become a class act is to ACT.
Dean Smith was a class act in life and in death. Start today on the journey toward being a class act. I’m going to give it a shot.