Some things in life are just so simple and basic, yet so overwhelmingly powerful and important, that they bear repeating and revisiting often.
The Golden Rule is one of those items–do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It is a concept you would expect to hear in church, or from a mom or dad (one you have recited to your kids on more than one occasion), or maybe from a teacher in school.
But as simple as the idea is, the reality isn’t always such an easy matter.
I have written in this blog about it a time or two and have indirectly referred to it on many occasions. But just the other day, I heard it again from a source that I hold in high esteem, and I wanted to share the experience with you.
I interviewed Vince Dooley. He was the University of Georgia football coach for 25 years and athletic director for several more. He amassed 201 career wins–one of a handful of college football coaches to attain over 200 wins in a career–among a wheelbarrow full of other achievements, not the least of which was coaching Hershel Walker…but that’s another story.
The point of this missive is that I didn’t really expect him to quote The Golden Rule.
I was interviewing him in early January for Leatherneck Magazine, magazine of the Marine Corps since 1919, for which I am a contributing editor.
He will be the first subject of a new series I am preparing called “Alumni Marines,” about men and women who are veteran Marines and went on to be successful in other fields but still identify with the Corps and even give it credit for their later success.
I won’t tell you the whole story here; if you want that you’ll have to pick up the April issue of the magazine for “the rest of the story.”
I’ll tell you the end of the story here.
After more than an hour of talking with him about several different issues, my last question was “What is the one thing in your life that you believe has kept you focused on success in and out of the Marine Corps?”
He thought about that for a split second: “The Golden Rule.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Well, it’s just so easy and simple, but it works,” he replied.
This is a man who stalked the sidelines in some of the hottest contests in football history. He was brought up in Mobile, Alabama, and used sports as a means of breaking clear of working in the shipyards.
He was an active-duty Marine for two years and a Reserve Marine for eight more; an assistant college coach at age 23 while he was still a Marine Reservist. One of the youngest head coaches ever at age 31 when he took over the Bulldogs at UGA. And still a devoted husband and father.
It struck me that he’d spent most of his adult life in two organizations that had bulldogs as a mascot–UGA and the Corps.
This was a man who personified the word “tenacious.”
He has led a pretty complicated and intense life.
Yet when he boiled it down to what worked for him, it was something as simple as the Golden Rule.
Treat others the way you would hope to be treated by them.
I have thought a lot about that since our interview, and as I think about all the men and women I’ve met in my life who have impressed me as really good leaders, good people, contributors, it has always been people who consciously or not carry out that simple oath.
I have always believed it to be a good code to live by, but after hearing it come from Vince Dooley, I’ve re-energized my dedication to living it.
I will take those deep breaths, count to five, or may even ten, before I do or say something to someone in a moment of impatience or haste, only to regret it later.
We all make mistakes, all have bad days, none of us are perfect and anyone who says he is is full of …(1, 2, 3, 4, 5…)… is full of misguided self-indulgence.
There may be times when I decide that, even after deep breaths and counting, somebody deserves to hear my opinion on a subject; but even then I vow to temper my responses and respond with the lowest level of intensity necessary. I will think first, “How would I want to be treated in this case?”
So on this Friday and through the weekend and beyond, I hope all you Week-Enders will join me and start a Wave of Gold…
Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Peachtree City, Ga.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.