Soup And Flowers April 10, 2009Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
Tags: Best Of 2009, Communication, Humility, Listening, Management Skills, Relationships
Jerry Clower often told the story of the best neighbor he ever knew, a fellow named Ben:
Many years ago, Ben lived next door to an elderly widower, Mr. Johnson, and took it upon himself to help his neighbor. Every day, Ben made soup and carried it next door for lunch with the old man.
Eventually, the old man passed away. As he had for many years, Ben made soup and carried it to the old man’s house. There he found the house filled with flowers, with many mourners paying their respects to Ben, who was laid out in the parlor. The other mourners laughed when Ben arrived. “Why did you bring soup? Mr. Johnson is dead!” Ben didn’t miss a beat: “He can taste my soup just as well as he can smell your flowers!”
More recently, Susan Mazza posted a blog entry on Hidden Heroes. She talked about the hidden heroes in each of our lives, those people that quietly influenced us and made us better people. She shared the story of her hidden hero, her mother-in-law Ada. She also admonished her readers to make sure that we tell our hidden heroes how we feel about them, while we can.
The resulting comments are inspiring. People shared who their heroes were, and many concluded by noting that they would make sure to share how they felt.
Tim Russert’s book, Wisdom Of Our Fathers, is a collection of tribute letters written by adult children, about their fathers. These letters were inspired by Russert’s book, Big Russ and Me, which is a tribute to his father. Russert got so many letters he compiled them into a book. Many of the letters end with a similar regret: “I wish I had told him…” or “If only he knew…”
Ben’s elderly neighbor may or may not have been a hero to Ben, but he knew how Ben felt about him every day. While those who brought the flowers to the viewing could claim to have shared their feelings, tasting that soup every day meant a whole lot more than heaps of flowers, after the fact.
Susan’s readers heard the same call to share before it is too late, and will have the opportunity to let their heroes know how they feel. Russert’s, for the most part, are not so lucky, and missed a chance to say a few words that, guaranteed, would mean more than anything else (anything else) to their Dad.
We all have that chance to share, every day, with people that mean a little or a lot to us. As leaders, do our people know how we feel about them? Do your mentors know how they’ve helped and how you feel? Conversely, are you so wrapped up in your job that you haven’t shared your feelings with a neighbor or relative?
Last week, I encouraged everyone to deliver pansies but plant tulips. This week, take the time to make sure someone tastes your soup before your only choice is to carry them flowers.