Who is your hero?
by Kevin D. Crone
Within minutes of walking into a crowed room at a wedding or other casual events, people are laughing because of my older brother Eddie, who is legendary in Windsor. He is the kindest, most likeable, most practical, funny Irishman you will ever meet. Everyone loves Eddie. I really do. He is my hero. He was raised in the factory town in a big Irish family. The culture was to have fun, work hard, take care of your family, respect and enjoy everyone’s company, play and watch sports, have a couple of pops, and sing a lot of Irish songs. (And could he sing). In Windsor, if you worked as a machinist or in tool and die you were either working overtime or laid-off. A lot of insecurity and some hardships but he did fine. He has a great family and grandkids who adore him. Man can he tell a story about all the funny, good times with his buddies. (Story telling seems to be a lost art). Executives, leaders and just about everyone could learn how to spellbind a group like Eddie does.
How do you become so adored and admired like Eddie? Well, as I look back at all our conversations, and we talk a lot and are on the phone weekly, or at my back home visits, one thing strikes me about Eddie… He doesn’t criticize, condemn or complain. Now this is Dale Carnegie’s first fundamental technique in handling people and probably the most difficult for all of us to master. Now this doesn’t mean he hasn’t had much to complain about, with work, money, or health issues over the years, especially when he lost his beloved Kay a few years back. He went to her side in an assisted living home every day, all day, for years. For many of us this could be a life draining experience but Eddie saw it as a privilege to be there, to just take care of her.
Being alone at his age with all your buddies gone is not a happy place but I never hear a complaint from him. No one is attracted to a complainer. Well, maybe another chronic complainer is. Yes, he would worry about kids today, his own daughters, Canada and the chaos in the world like the rest of us but he would say “well it’s always been tough, the world keeps changing, you just keep going”. He always makes things practical and simple and easier than it looks. Yes, you just keep going. Things usually aren’t as bad as they seem. That’s how Eddie sees things and his advice has always calmed us down and moved us forward. He is the bedrock of our family.
In any conversation about others bad behaviour he would always end with something like “oh well he must have had a good reason, we don’t really know. Everyone’s different. Maybe if we were in the same situation we would be the same”. He always gave someone the benefit of the doubt as tough as it can be. He never talks badly about anyone.
As Dale Carnegie said, any fool can criticize and most fools do. Even bad guys don’t see that they are doing wrong. Human nature in action is usually about blaming everyone but ourselves. We are all like that. No one likes criticism and it doesn’t work. Hans Selye a great psychologist said, “as much as we thirst for approval we dread condemnation”. People just push back after criticism. That is how it is. It usually doesn’t change anyone and friendships, families and businesses can be destroyed forever. One stunning emotional email, text or tweet can quickly ruin an image, reputation and relationship. We have to sit on our feelings and not press send or shut our mouths if we want to survive in this quick to criticize world.
Just last week some of my American buddies and I had a politics conversation. Like fools we got into it for a while. Subsequently I told them I would never talk about you know who again to them for I value our friendship too much. Yes, it is tough today, but our happiness and our friends and family mean everything in the final analysis. Just like Eddie does, instead of chronically condemning or criticizing people let’s try to understand them more. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. Most times that works. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness like Eddie demonstrates. I once read “God himself sir, does not propose to judge a person until the end of their days – why should you and I”?
Let’s apply this principle this week. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain. If we apply it we will continue to have great family, friends and business relationships. Eddie always leads a toast with “to happiness”. Yes, we will have more of that too.
Have a great week