Deb Sofield


Remember people are looking up to you – don’t let them down

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There is a small church near where I live, and on the outdoor board that shows the church service times and the pastors name and other information, I saw that they had put up this phrase, “Remember, people are looking up to you – don’t let them down”.

I really like that thought, because it is so true. I know I speak about this a lot, but, friends, hear me—you never know who is watching you, and you never know who is following your steps, as they live their lives. You matter. Your words matter. Your actions matter. How you live your life matters. Never forget and never think that you can get by, because someone is always looking up to you, so don’t let them down.

My guest last week, Matt, who I see at all the political events I speak at nationwide, never knew that I was watching him. The first time I met him I noticed he was different, and I wanted to see how he was able to make crazy things even out. I just wanted to learn a few tips for my toolbox, and lately, as I am on my own journey to be a better me, I have taken to heart the words of my own message that, no matter where I am, someone is probably watching me.

Now part of this gives me no comfort, since I make a lot of mistakes and then have to go and make corrections, but it is a good reminder that you and I work our whole life to build a reputation, and if we’re not careful, we can lose it in an instant (many times unfairly), but our friendenemies and the media don’t care as they grind us to dust—we’re just another story for today’s headline and something else will take our headline tomorrow. And to think that we’ll spend many years, and for some the rest of their lives, building back our reputation to prove to the naysayers that we were honest all along.

It was Will Rogers who said, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.”

I have noticed in my own life, that people look up to folks like you and me for a variety of reasons and probably one of the most important is that we have self respect. I love the definition found in self-respect is a noun that means – proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one’s character. I like that line—the dignity of one’s character—meaning that we care for ourselves and our belongings and our family and friends. We try to keep our weight in check; our homes in order. Our work is accurate and our attitude is sunny side up, even on hard days. I know it’s not easy, but, really, what choice do you have, especially if you’re a person who cares about the dignity of your character.

We all know the old line that says character is who you are when no one is watching. Charles Hadden Spurgeon, a famous Preacher of yesteryear, said, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”

Someone who understands the concept of self-respect will by their life and actions carve a place into people’s hearts, because they fundamentally understand that people are looking up to them, and that is reason enough to do right, or as preacher I grew up listening to would say, do right until the stars fall.

Another reason people look up to us is that we have and show respect for others. It’s not hard to be respectful, but it sure seems that way today. I don’t know if some people just think they need to bully their way to the top, but it really doesn’t endear them to anyone, if that is the way they do business. And, really, no one looks up to someone like that—in fact, they do the opposite, they look down on someone who cannot show basic courtesy and respect.

Not to be negative, but one of my pet peeves is what I call a prideful sense of stupidness, like when I hear people say, “Well, they should just like me for who I am,” or, “Why should I change? It’s not my problem that people don’t like me,” (as a matter of fact it is) or the attitude that everyone else is wrong or stupid or dumb who doesn’t think you’re as special as you do.

It’s an odd sense of arrogance when some people think that being disruptive is okay, or being unkind is acceptable or being generally mean spirited or snarky or back-biting or bitter or ugly is allowed in today’s world. What it is… is a complete lack of disrespect, that in very simple terms, pits those with manners against those who choose not to learn or respect manners, and the truth is that anyone can learn to have manners, anyone can learn to do right, anyone can be honest, anyone can be kind; you just have to make up your mind to do so, even when you don’t feel like it, because that is when they are watching or looking up to you to see what you will do. Friend, don’t let them down.

If your current issue of self-esteem is so confused that you think it is okay to be ugly in your attitude or manners or dress, by being disrespectful to others, I encourage you as a friend, to please reconsider, because you weren’t born mean, hateful and ugly (no one is born that way); it is just a reflection of something that has happened to you that you need to be healed from or released from, so you can learn to live your best life ever.

Another reason that people are looking up to you is that you are genuine. You are who you are—you don’t put on airs, acting like you’re better (or in some cases worse) than you are. The fact is, when you are young, it takes a while to figure out who you are. When you’re young, you try out a few different personalities, to see which one fits your style or your mindset. Now, the problem comes when you get to be older, and hopefully wiser, and you need to have this figured out, so you really are the genuine person you have created yourself to be, meaning that what I see is who you are in good times and bad.

We respect people who are genuine, who say what they mean and mean what they say, and that is a comfort for those who are looking up to you to know that, no matter what, your word is your bond. Goodness, don’t you wish everyone felt that way? I don’t about you, but I am tired of people who say one thing and then do another. It’s a sad day when you have to put everything in writing, because an honest handshake is not how people do business. These are the people who hope no one is watching, but they are mistaken; if not today, one day all their lies and deceit will be found out, and then they will have let everyone down.

Hear me, if you’re not doing business in a proper way, fix your ways now. The longer you live in a lie, the harder it is to come clean. You will not win in the end, no matter how smart you think you are. Why? Because you’ve lost your self-respect, and now you’ve lost the respect others and you’re not genuine—we can all see that. But you know what the worst part is? It is that you have chosen to let people down, and that is a bad way live.

Quickly, I want to touch on two other character traits on why it is important to remember that people are looking up to you, and you cannot let them down. Number one, a person of good will understands that having compassion coupled with discernment is the life that leaves a legacy. Remember the quote, “Carved on hearts…”

Compassion – a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it… Why? Because you understand that others are looking up to you and watching, in hopes of learning how to live their best life ever. Understanding that life is hard, they are looking to you—yes, you—to feel their distress, pain and suffering, and, yet, through it all to show them the way to success or freedom, or free them from pain—whether it is personal, emotional, or mental. You, by your life that they are watching, you help them find a calm sense of being. Ah, friend, that is compassion at its best, and who wouldn’t want to offer that drink of cool water at the end of a hard day? You would be soulless if you didn’t care, and that would break my heart to know that you walked on by and you let them down.

And I’ll end with the concept of discernment. I like to think of discernment as a way of knowing when you don’t know—it’s a gut feeling, a thought, a memory, an idea that you feel deeply and just know what is right. But if you’ve lost your soul, because you’ve lost your self-respect and the respect others; if you’re not genuine and you lack compassion, you’ll have no discernment, in fact, you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about, and my thought for today is falling on your deaf ears. My prayer is that today you stop…hear…listen and, for goodness sakes, take action, before it’s too late.

You matter. Your words matter. Your actions matter. How you live your life matters. Never forget, and never think that you can get by, because someone is always looking up to you, so don’t you dare let them down.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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