Today I attended the funeral of a wonderful lady, Anita Bates. In the face of Anita leaving this world so young, I’m writing this in the hope that something can shift in your world to create just a little more inspiration. As she would have done if still here.
She, as the vicar said, is one of few people in the world who are not only held in high regard but who are also loved. That was shown by the numbers of people spilling out of the ceremony room, and into the entrance hall which was also ready to burst people back out onto the path outside.
As a leader, Anita fundamentally cared. About her team, her customers, and most of all her family. This shone through in her beautiful smile, it showed up in her positivity, in her desire and ability to help others achieve great things. This doesn’t mean she was soft – when you know someone’s on your side it’s much easier to hear challenge because it comes with warmth, to see developmental feedback as the genuine desire to help you achieve more than you realise you can for yourself. All of this care was balanced with high standards for the customer experience – and which meant a successful business.
I saw this balance in bucket loads when we first worked together, many years ago, on a complex disability case. A lady needed love and care, and we also needed to do the right thing for the customers. Throughout Anita was calm, fair, supportive and, in spite of the challenges she faced, she was tenacious and dedicated to finding the right solution for everyone. This was just her. It came naturally. Something so many have to work hard to develop.
She was an inspirational leader. And somehow all of that, as amazing as it was, feels superficial given her strength of committment to her immediate and extended family. Her work always came second to them.
This great poem was shared at the ceremony.
I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her casket from beginning to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; Are there things you would like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what is true and real
and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we have never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?
Anita’s ‘dash’ was incredible and inspiring. If I can have half the impact she had on those around her I’ll be pleased.
[The Dash by Linda Ellis]