“I don’t need another award,” I said softly. It was a feeble protest about my nomination for an upcoming honor.
‘It’s not for you,” she said, looking me straight in the eyes. Despite not a scintilla of judgment in her voice, I immediately felt a gentle punch in my gut followed by a warm flush in my face.
Clearly I’d thought it was.
“Awards are not for us,’ she explained with the gentleness of a parent revealing to a child that Santa wasn’t real. I was silent, confused by both her words and my shame upon hearing them.
“They’re for the inspiration of others.”
Bev’s kind coaching was a few years back. This week she showed me exactly what she meant.
We are at an annual luncheon where women in our community are recognized for their outstanding contributions. Young, old. Some dressed for business or in pastel pink, others in indigenous outfits or bold fuchsia. Skin of all shades.
Each honoree has two minutes to speak. Most give thanks to those who’d taught them lessons, challenged them, or believed in them along the way. Mothers and grandmothers get particular mention.
They share inspirational stories, like how the tragic death of a battered woman at the hands of her abuser sparked a lifelong passion to advocacy and social justice for the most vulnerable. They give powerful wisdom, like “Thank those on whose shoulders you stand” and “Seek not to be recognized; seek to be deserving of recognition”.
Bev is one of the honorees. She holds no notes as her slight frame stands confidently behind the podium. Bev is being recognized for a lifetime of contribution to the field of ethics—doing the right thing. She speaks from the heart and seizes the moment to lift up another woman in the room. Bev speaks their name intentionally, explains the mission of their organization, and urges the hundreds in attendance to support them.
Years ago Bev told me. Now she showed me. It makes me want to give her an award for being a model of wisdom, humility, and generosity. But of course, she’d give it away if I did.
Do you feel inspired when others are recognized?
How do you find humility when you are acknowledged?
How can you use your voice to lift up others?