I lost one of my favorite cousins this week. Ruth Marie Evans of Columbus, Arkansas passed away on 2-29-16. She was one of my Mom and Dad’s favorites also. She passed away where most of us would want to be; home. I saw her in the hospital last Wednesday. She was ready to go home. I told her I would try to pull some strings and get her one more night in the hospital. If she could have reached something I know she would have thrown it at me as I left.
I want to set the stage by sharing a chapter of my book, “Leading Like You Own It – Why We Never Wax A Rental Car!” The chapter is titled, “Be A William!”
A few years ago, I was teaching a leadership seminar to a group of managers. I was about twenty minutes into a four-hour leadership program when the name first came up. One of the attendees said, “that’s what William said.” I just acknowledged his comment and proceeded with the program. After another thirty minutes or so, someone else said, “that’s what William would have done.” Again, I acknowledged the comment and proceeded.
I felt pretty confident I was on the right track since it seemed someone named William agreed with many of my leadership lessons. I began to keep a stroke sheet every time someone mentioned the name William. At the end of four hours, I had five strokes on my sheet.
I had a good idea of who William was but at the end of my program, I asked; who in the world is William? I was told he was the highest level at that location for many years. He had retired a few years earlier. I was shocked that even after being gone a few years, his name was very familiar.
I asked these questions;
- Evidently, William had a big impact here? Every head nodded.
- Evidently, William was well thought of here? Every head nodded.
- Evidently, William left a huge legacy here? Every head nodded.
It set me up perfectly to ask the following question; what will they say about you? Not when you are gone, what are they saying now?
Everything we do and say is building or tearing down our reputation and legacy. Everything good that is said or done builds our reputation and legacy. It is like putting another brick on a strong wall.
Every time we do or say something that hurts our reputation or legacy, it removes a brick from the wall. These bricks do not come from the top; they come from the foundation. A strong foundation is weakened quickly by the removal of just a few bricks.
We must keep adding, not removing these bricks. Personal growth and Betterment will add to your reputation and legacy. Be a William.
Now back to my cousin, Ruth Marie. When my dad had a stroke years ago, most of my family said there was no need to drive in from Blytheville. Ruth Marie called us and said I should come in. I listened to Ruth Marie. When my dad had a heart attack while visiting us in Fayetteville, Ruth Marie made the five hour drive to check on him to see if she could help. I remember when my mom was sick, Ruth Marie was always there to help. When anyone around the Cross Roads or Columbus area needed help, Ruth Marie was there. I remember the many Christmas parties at her beautiful country home. I can’t write anything without mentioning the pickles she made for everyone at Christmas.
Another thing that comes to mind is I seldom, if ever, saw Ruth Marie at a funeral. She was always at the home or church preparing food and getting things ready for the family. She was helping. If there was ever a function at the church, she was helping.
While I was in North Little Rock last week, Sandy and I had lunch at our favorite grill; Gadwalls. Some friends of ours own Gadwalls. One of the owners, Neil, sat down and visited with us. I shared with him how I have referenced him in some of my leadership sessions. He was shocked and asked how?
I reminded him of the fire that burnt the old location of Gadwalls. When I heard of the fire, I called him. I told him I was thinking about him and asked if there was anything I could do? The first words out of his mouth were, “Greg, I don’t know what my employees will do.” It wasn’t about the fire, his family or the building. It was about his team members. It was about “others.”
Ruth Marie was about “others.” Most of my memories of Ruth Marie will always be about her helping others. I’ve always heard this was the greatest generation. This generation is gradually disappearing. If you do a word search on the word “help,” you will find it five times in my writing about Ruth Marie.
I think “helping others” should be an aspiration for all of us.
To put it simply; Be A Ruth Marie.
My prayers go out to her family.
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