What do you mean – statement or question

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With the phrase ‘What do you mean’. I am not talking about the questioning or confirmation sort of phrase one would ask in wonderment. This is a more significant statement of ‘What do you mean?’ in the sense of what you mean to someone else. These last few days has been a reminder of what I mean to others and what they mean to me. With our students graduating this week, I am reminded of the relationships we have established over the years.

On this special week, I am in my regalia from the University of Exeter and now march in the procession of faculty members to take a place on stage for the ceremony. As I wonder the halls prior to the ceremony, I am stopped by the students graduating. Some of the students I am aware of their chapter closing and others I see and realize they are now also graduating. It takes me a good 45 minutes to walk about 100 yards because of all the activities, hugs, smiles, handshakes and photos. I am in a good place physically and mentally. I can’t help but smile and get misty eyed at the same time.

‘What do you mean?’ is a reminder that to others, you have made an impression and impact. They have significance in my life as much as I do in theirs. To build such relationships does not happen over night. One must be on the ground living with what those around you are doing. You share in their successes as you do as much as their challenges. It is even more important to be present when they need you the most. I guess what is important to me is that while I have gotten to know so many, the fact of the matter is that each person means something different to me. Each person matters. Your success and life are important to me and you matter as an individual…even if we only meet once. There are no agendas or set reason to meet…if you feel it important to sit and chat with me, I will make the time…and my time is no more valuable than those who I see. There may be a challenge in finding the time and place but rest assured, we will meet. This has been my secret of success…being present and available for people when they needed me. My message is to just take time to sit and get to know people. You would be amazed at what they bring and how important they really are.

In 10 years there have been 21 graduation ceremonies, I have never missed one to date and don’t plan on missing any in the future. I reflect on the lives that have transitioned from when I saw them cross the stage 10 years ago to today. It is important to see and be present at an important time in the lives of the people I was with for many years. If my calculations are correct…we have about 500-1,000 graduates per year…multiply that by 10 years and that becomes 5,000-10,000 grads and of that, so many that are significant in my life. What do you mean? A lot!

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