Being a courteous young man, my son is quick to hold open the door for people. He’s loathe to give in to the gender bias he sees in such old-fashioned manners, so he’ll hold the door for everyone. I try to avoid taking him to the shopping mall during the holidays; we’ll never make it inside the building. To all the men who hold doors for women, the elderly, and those who need assistance, thank you – I know you don’t hear it often enough. I appreciate you.
Standing in line at a local amusement park on a hot day, I accidentally stepped into a sticky puddle of half-dried soda. It sucked my loafer right off my foot as I went to take a step forward, and I started to pitch headlong towards the cement. Fortunately, I regained my balance. Looking down, I muttered, “Aren’t there just some days when you’d dearly love to smack someone over the head with a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette?
Well, the guy behind me thought it was funny. We agreed, though, that Emily would be rolling over in her grave if we did that.
Good manners never go out of style. Although I’ve had little occasion to wear white kid gloves in the last 40-some years, saying “please” and “thank you” are timeless; they are as appropriate today as they were a century ago. Good manners, like a sincere smile and a cheerful attitude, help to put others in a more positive frame of mind.
“I promise to love, honor, and ob—oh, hell no!!” We’re not an obedient lot, for the most part, once the law declares us “adults.” We prefer to couch it in terms of “respect for authority,” or “upholding the law,” and “complying” with a loved one’s request. We all obey someone – God, our parents, a spouse, a boss, the law – and none of us can simply ignore authority or obligation with impunity.
Boy Scout Law recognizes that rules aren’t always fair: “If [a Scout] thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.” And that is at the heart of a healthy democracy, each person having a voice in how government runs things.
When you’re the boss, you get to set some of the rules. Do you expect your employees or partners to obey these rules? Would you, if you were in their shoes? Do you now? Real leadership – the kind that would have people follow you into Hell and back – requires that you not ask of anyone something that you are unwilling to do yourself. Lead by example.