Integrity Matters
June 18, 2008

Share your energy, watch results

Question: (E-350)

Politicians, powerbrokers and celebrities "work crowds," extending their impact - for votes, influence and fame. We love it when they shake our hands, make direct eye contact and flash what we hope is a sincere smile at us. Seeing them up close, obtaining their autographs or simply being near enough to actually hear them - their "persona" - often provides an electrifying motivation.

Is this "aura" just so much fluff or is it real? Only you can make that determination for yourself.

NBC's Tim Russert of Meet the Press fame, died this past week at age 58. He was a legend, loved by millions and respected by the powerful and those who trusted his journalistic methods.

Early in his life, Tim, the son of a "working stiff" truck driver who sometimes held three jobs at once, was able to shake the hand of President John Kennedy. An elected official, working yet another crowd, made physical contact with this Catholic-trained Buffalo youngster, whose father was remembered for saying, "a Russert shook hands with the president."

Did this one moment transform his life? Maybe! But, this physical connection with the president energized him and the rest is what it means to live the American Dream. For the past couple of decades, he was an individual to whom those aspiring to become president would want to speak. And, it may have started with a two-second gift of a Kennedy handshake.

Former President Bill Clinton had a similar experience, also with President Kennedy, when he was attending a national Boys State conference in Washington, D.C., as a representative from Arkansas. He recalled, with great fondness, his opportunity to shake the president's hand. The moment, recorded on film, may have been a watershed event for him as well. Energy can be passed from one individual to another - and, in this instance, it stayed with him, all the way to his own two-term presidency.

Closer to home, at the Carmel Mission, during the visit of Pope John Paul II, the spiritual leader of Roman Catholics, three small girls received a personal blessing, including a kiss on their forehead, by the Holy Father. In just a few seconds, three young lives were forever changed. They had come into contact with the one individual who - in their religious tradition - most embodies the faith-history of their Savior, Jesus Christ. We may not be presidents or popes, but to others we can be sources of energy, hope, stability and support.

Making the time to greet others warmly, shake their hands, listen attentively and graciously to their concerns and pass along words of reassurance - such are the actions of integrity-centered individuals. Sharing our energy, unselfishly, can and will transform others for the better.


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