A Story That Makes the Point
There I was at an engagement – the featured keynote speaker as well as a panelist and workshop facilitator. The opportunity was a conference to which influential and wealthy women were expressly invited by the convener. I was honoured.
You can imagine in mounting even a six-hour event, much groundwork ensued behind the scenes. These preparatory aspects entailed specific instructions about the day’s timing in order to stay on schedule. Toward that end, panelists were sent our questions in advance so as to render succinct responses. The unspoken purpose was to demonstrate respect for the four other women who would be offering their insights.
Despite the attention to detail intended to ensure a successful experience, what do you imagine happened?
Hardly had the moderator posed her first query than the individual in question proceeded to grab the microphone – even though another panelist had clearly raised her hand to go first. Oblivious to the audience’s askanced looks, this woman launched into a five-minute monologue that can only be described as ignorant – all about her greatness and arrogant views that “the rules are not for me”. As if she alone on Earth were exempt!
Wow. My mouth hangs open still. I was stunned. I remain inflamed.
Why? That one action alone displayed such cavalier disrespect for everyone in the room I can scarcely believe it to this day. On top of it, her energy-vampire actions ultimately compromised the remaining agenda, as no one stepped forward in courageous leadership to stop her self-absorption in its tracks.
The Top Ten List
While processing these shocking behaviours up to my wrists in weeds and garden dirt afterwards, a whole article on “class” came to me so quickly, I kept coming indoors to record the insights on what is now a very scruffy scrap of paper. Not a usual Top Ten List, may the alternating rhythms provoke deep contemplation in you:
True Class imparts wisdom when requested – always in service and love.
Fake Class foists opinion – unsolicited – for the purpose of self-gain.
True Class shines light upon others’ greatness – making them feel special.
Surface Class focuses singularly upon its own magnificence.
True Class accords space for authenticity of exchange – a safe truth-speaking refuge.
Low Class siphons others’ life force – shutting them down.
True Class knows its worth and walks with humility plus nobility of carriage.
No Class shores up its value through shameless self-promotion.
True Class stands in silent power – feet firmly planted in grace.
Shaky Class leans in on others – oblivious to impact and obsessed with its neediness.
If there were an over-arching conclusion at which I encourage you to arrive, it would be: True Class has nothing to do with outer wealth and everything to do with inner riches.
Interestingly, while composing this piece, I suddenly remembered a classic from Ann Landers’ Encyclopedia. For decades, she served as a trusted source of advice via her U.S.newspaper column. What do you think it was called? That’s right! “What Is Class?”
What an inspiration to reconnect with a meaningful piece that had enormously impressed me already as a child in the 1960’s. Yes, that’s how far back we’re talking! As you read along, I hope you will agree that class is indeed timeless.
"Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident in the knowledge that you can meet life head on and handle whatever comes along."
"Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes."
"Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices."
"Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse."
"Class can ‘walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.’ Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself."
"If you have class you don't need much of anything else. If you don't have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference."
Well said, Ann!