Simply, Great.

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Hi, good to see you again.

You’re probably wondering who the person is in the picture.  You’ll meet him in a moment.  He is an unassuming fellow who is simply, great.  I am sure that he was not perfect… but great none-the-less.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I am touched and moved by simple things and noble things.

In our high tech, grab the brass ring, take the world by storm, get out of my way world we live in; the simple things are easily pushed to the side to accommodate more impressive things.

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We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.
- Stewart Udall

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I admire people who have successfully fought the current of our world and become great in simple ways.

About five blog entries back (Garbage In – Treasure Out) I talked about a fellow by the name of Ervin Sievers from Clarkson, Michigan who knew who he was and was proud of what he did… a trash hauler.  He caught my eye when I read a newspaper story about Ervin wanting a garbage truck to be a part of his funeral procession.

Well, it happened again.  I ran across a simple person who has a lot to say to us.

I was digging through some of my old files and ran across an article I had used in some meetings with customers a few years back.  The 1997 USA Today article was a human interest story about a fellow by the name of Carlos Wilson, a doorman at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, VA.

The article featured Carlos because he had worked six decades without a sick day.  The not having a sick day is nice but not the reason his life touched me.  What touched me at the time was how he went about his work.

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Side Note: Not having a sick day is like having perfect attendance in school – admirable but not the thing that deserves a hero button.

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Since the article was fifteen years old I thought I would Google Carlos Wilson to see if he would show up.  I’m glad I did.

The top search was an article from August, 2011 in The Virginian-Pilot.  The story by Kristen Davis was about Carlos Wilson’s (pictured above) death at age 89.

This article reinforced the first article I read (1997 USA Today) and expanded on a life that finished well.

Please allow me to share a few excerpts from the article.

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“The lessons of Carlos Wilson were elementary and absolute:

  • Remember people’s names.
  • Show up on time, and you’re 90 percent ahead of everyone else.
  • Do more than you’re paid to do. One day it will pay off.
  • Respect is worth more than money.
  • Lies beget lies. Tell the truth about everything; deal with it and move on.
  • Life ought to be something to live, not fear.
  • Slow down.
  • Smile.

“Within minutes of learning of Wilson’s death Friday at the age of 89, Daniel Batchelor thought of those words. He went to work for the man at The Cavalier Hotel 35 summers ago and stayed on, forgoing college. Wilson offered him all the education he’d ever need – about the hospitality business and the way to live life.

“Just two months shy of his 90th birthday, Wilson had yet to fully retire after 73 years on the job. And Batchelor, now president and general manager of the beach resort, expected him at work the day of his death.

“Wilson came to The Cavalier in 1938. He’d washed dishes, maintained the grounds, cleared tables, waited on guests, worked as the food and beverage manager and become director of guest services.

“He was deeply spiritual, and taught his daughters to say something uplifting whenever they spoke to someone. You can’t get fresh water and salt water out of the same faucet, Wilson told them. Have a silent tongue and a listening ear and you will learn something.

“He sewed up holes in his socks and holes in his undershirts and drove cars until the floorboard rusted clean through – then put wood over the hole and told passengers to watch their step when they climbed inside.

“‘When it came time for us to go to college,(his daughter said) dad had the money.’”

“One week before he died, Wilson went to work, and Batchelor sought him out, just as he always did.

“‘My dear friend’, Wilson said to him, and the two embraced.

“Batchelor would not see him again. On Friday, he spelled out these words on the marquee: “In loving memory of Mr. Carlos Wilson 73 years of service.” Then he went back to work.

“I know Carlos, in all his wisdom, would tell us, ‘You have to take care of those guests. I’m fine,’” he said.

So Batchelor did.”

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Millions of people have attained a higher social status and greater financial success than Carlos Wilson.  But few can match the life he lived.

I don’t know about you, but Carlos Wilson inspires and challenges me.

I can’t think of many things I would want more than to be… simply, great.

See you Monday.

Ciao

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2 comments

  1. Donna Bennett

    Carlos Wilson was a real inspiration. Precious and rare.

  2. Jerry Rushing

    Yes, I agree… Precious and rare.

    Thanks for commenting.

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