A person’s greatest reward but also greatest punishment is what he/she may leave behind!
Each year my nephew Andrew and his wife Amy with their two kids, set aside at least one week to enjoy our cottage in the summer. This year was no different. Except, they respectfully asked if we were open to having friends join them. Of course that is what makes cottaging so much fun. The more the merrier! So their friends and three kids were included. Several days later, Andrew called seeking permission for two more attendees, over and above the nine already confirmed. The additions were two Labrador retrievers! Four adults, five kids, and two large dogs! Good luck to the cottage!
After their week of fun, with no questions asked, we went to the cottage for the post guest inspection. As usual Andrew and Amy left the place spotless and in perfect order. On the side table in the living room, tucked inside our guest book, was a piece of 8 ½ x 11 inch paper with words written in crayon. It’s heading simply read: “Dear Murph…”.
Rejection is a tough action to absorb. I can remember standing in a line waiting to be chosen for a particular team. It’s not that I would not be eventually chosen but the worry if I would be selected among the first or one of the last. And there were times when I was selected but spent most of my time on the bench waiting to be asked to play, hoping some other player didn’t show for the game, or one was not playing well and had to be pulled or should I even say a non-life threatening injury might occur. Then there was the job search. Many resumes sent but equally as many rejections received whether directly or indirectly. Sometimes not even a reply, just ignored. Rejection occurs in so many different forms.
I always thought I had done well in my career. I was made a Vice President at age 28 and became president of a well-established company at age 39. My subsequent consulting years provided the opportunity to work with many large domestic and international companies producing accommodation, recommendation and a favoured reputation. And then again I occupied the President & CEO role for a highly reputable company for seven years with many accomplishments. So with a merger happening, and a search for a new President & CEO commissioned, I thought I was in a good position to be that President & CEO. But after progressing through several interviews, the same people who witnessed the success of our company now being merged with another, simply said without explanation, they decided to appoint someone else to the position of President & CEO. I had been rejected.
There is potential danger with our response to rejection. We can easily allow rejection to become resentment and in some circumstances it can lead to a dangerous retribution. However, regardless of the cause of rejection we must take time to reflect, recognize who we are, and then if necessary, reinvent ourselves. As difficult as it may be, one’s decision to reject us should never lead to our own self-rejection.
If we allow power, position, prestige, profession and even people to define us, if any one of these life factors were to be taken away from us, then who are we?
Prosperity is not then what are eyes can see or our hands can touch. Rather it is what are hearts can feel.
I am not an avid reader of poetry. But the poetry of Job in this particular context is overwhelming. Listen to what his words say to us. I have taken the liberty to label this:
WHAT DO I LEAVE BEHIND?
Whoever heard of me, spoke well of me,
And those who saw me commended me.
I rescued the poor who cried for help.
I was a father to the fatherless.
I made the widow’s heart sing.
I put on truth, integrity and justice as my clothing.
I was eyes to the blind.
I was legs to the lame.
I was food to the hungry.
I took up the cause of the stranger.
I broke the attacks of the wicked.
I snatched victims from oppression.
I showed partiality to no person,
Nor will I favor one more than the other.
I AM DEFINED BY HOW I TREAT OTHERS!
(Rejection by others is not a definition of who we are.)
One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease, the body well nourished and their bones rich with marrow.
Another person dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good.
Side by side they lie in the dust and death covers them both.
A young, 7 year old Dax wrote his letter, and it began with these words, Dear Murph. Thank you for letting us have such a wonderful time this year at the cottage…………..
(I was pleased his Mom and Dad did not attempt to correct his spelling and grammar.)
My peers may have left behind words of rejection for a potential position, but life was more than this. For me it was time for personal reflection.
Rejected by my peers but accepted by a child. Unqualified to be their P/CEO but making a positive difference in the life of a 7 year old. What is more important?
Upon arrival home from another cottage weekend, we stopped to retrieve the mail. It produced the regular volume of junk and bills. But among these was a purple envelope. It was addressed to me in someone’s personal handwriting. I was anxious to know the sender.
The card inside had a puppy dog on the front holding a blue flower in its mouth. At the top right hand corner, the picture of the sun shining brightly was drawn. The caption simply said, “A Little Thanks.”
I read these words, “Merv, thank you for everything you have done for us. You have been very kind and generous.”
It was written by the very young daughter of a former employee. The child named Laura, wanted to say thanks for how she, her brother, mommy and daddy had been treated by the company I once served.
One’s life and what we leave behind can’t be measured by position, power, prestige, prosperity, profession and people. What we leave behind is measured by the difference we have made in the lives of others. Most often though before our final day is reached, in whatever context, we will never know the difference we have made. We may never hear from a Dax or a Laura. But let us be assured, what we leave behind is found in their lives, and if that becomes our focus, our life’s definition, we have nothing to fear.
Dax and Laura left behind some very simple childlike words. But the words left behind by these innocent children caused rejection’s power to be defeated.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Merv (aka. Murph)
Your comments are welcomed.