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.
I like including winners and whiners. Easy to encourage winners but what about whiners?
“A class act is someone who recognizes people need to be honored.”
I have a comment about the above quote. My work environment has changed greatly in the last few months. I have worked in the same large room for about 15 years, with my cubicle moved from time to time. Typically our room has had about 25 people In it on average. Recently we have had a ton of work dumped on us and the company has hired hundreds of contract people. For our room that meant cramming roughly 20 new people in the middle of the room. I tried to put myself in their shoes, most of them not knowing anyone. I pledged to myself a few weeks ago to try to learn all of their names, even though most of them will not work permantly for us. Back to our quote. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to “honor” people. Learning some of the new folks name has been a pleasant experience. As far as I can remember everyone smiled when I asked their name. Most of the time they still smile when I pass them and call them by name. I think it starts the day out right and honors people, by saying “good morning, Hannah! ” (unless your name is Fred!) I still have a few names to go!
Wow. What a great example! That really nails it.
Our former pastor, now DS, Ron Blake, studied our church directory before his first Sunday as our pastor. When we all went through the receiving line on that first Sunday he already knew most everyone’s names. He has an amazing ability to make everyone feel loved and accepted! Being called by your name is a great way to be honored.
Ron’s ability to do this is legendary. Thanks for sharing your insight.
Let us not forget that Dean Smith learned how to be a class act by growing up in Kansas and then attending the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
Thanks Pastor Randy (yep we still claim you!) for yet another challenge. Honoring others with the little things is a simple thought but not always easy as you say because of our self absorption. I need to do more of this…it’s too easy to become one of those whiners instead of a winner.
I like Terry’s idea of learning people’s names & then making a commitment to speak to them using their names along with a smile. I know I personally feel good when someone uses my name making the greeting much more personal & meaningful. I just wish I could figure a way to “remember” those names once I find them out!!
Thanks Peggy for reading and sharing your thoughts!