May 4

The Elevation of Association

May 4, 2016

Personal Growth

Recently I visited a dear friend in another city. It was in her home that I met her son Ben, who had just completed training at The International Butler Academy in the Netherlands. He was impeccably attired, demonstrating a studied punctiliousness rarely encountered in any but the most formal settings.

Ben, his parents, and I attended an event where most of the people were dressed in suits and semi-formal dresses. Although I was also wearing a suit—unusual for me—because of Ben’s appearance and my knowledge of his training, I found myself looking in the mirror to check out my hair, and I buttoned the tiny collar buttons that I normally ignore.

The next day we all attended a similar event, and as we traveled by car to the location, I commented that simply by associating with Ben, my standard of acceptable appearance had been elevated. I also commented that it would not surprise me if other people had experienced the same elevation by association with Ben.

Sure enough, after we arrived at the event of the second day—attended by a number of those who had been present the first day—at least three other people came up to Ben and showed him something about their appearance that they had changed from the day before: a double-Windsor knot in a tie, a fully buttoned shirt, a newly shaved face, and more. Each person was visibly proud of how he looked, and their behavior reflected their more formal and “proper” attire. And it all happened as the result of one man establishing a higher standard for others to see. He did not preach or persuade. We were elevated simply by his presence.

I have seen this elevation of association in many settings. People speak more clearly and succinctly, for example, when in the presence of one who is unusually articulate. More important, when we are kind, observant, and loving, the people around us are drawn to the light emanating from us, and they tend to follow our example.

Enveloping most of the world today there is a storm of fear, pain, anger, and darkness, as we can see with only casual observation or by perusing any newspaper or magazine. Our hope of changing this condition lies in the commitment each of us can make to rise above the darkness and shed forth a light that will elevate those around us. We really can make a difference in the world, much as a quiet butler did in a room full of people he had never met.

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