A Class Act

In every society, there are ‘human benchmarks'- certain individuals whose behavior becomes a model for everyone else- shining examples that others admire and emulate. We call these individuals Class Acts
Dan Sullivan

Dr Sam Soleyn is an advocate, teacher, and apostle of international repute. I am fortunate to know him personally and he exemplifies the extraordinary example of a unique human being who is well learned, versatile but totally aligned to the fragility of the human condition. I met Dr Sam on his first visit to South Africa. He is tall, stately and has the most winning smile, that I am sure melted many hearts in his day. One of the most defining aspects of Dr Sam is that he has an innate ability to make every person feel uplifted and renewed. He is always speaking words of encouragement into people’s lives. He also has an unmistakable generosity of spirit. In my book – He is a real class act. When he walks into any room, one has the clear impression that a statesman and King has graced you with his presence.

How does one become a class act in a world of mediocrity and shifting moral standards? According to Dan Sullivan, President of The Strategic Coach Company, there are several key principles that one could follow. Firstly, it is important to Live by your own highest standards. In my experience, with a diversity of individual, there are certain people who set much higher and more demanding personal standards of thinking and behaviour than the rest of the pack. It is my personal opinion that these standards are non-negotiable, settled and applied on a daily basis. Are you living by your highest standards?

Secondly, these human benchmarks are able to Maintain dignity and grace under pressure. Have you ever noticed that in any chaotic and troublesome situation, there is always one person who is able to stay calm, make accurate decisions and steer people into an appropriate direction. What are you like under extreme pressure? Do you carry yourself with poise and are able to lead others?

A class act is able to Increase the quality of every experience. I have a dear friend, Priscilla in Cape Town. She is a teacher in one of the most economically challenging areas. She is very laid back, walks around in comfy clothes and slippers, but still exudes the Kingly grace and sets the highest standards of personal excellence in every area of her life. She is able to transform every situation into something enjoyable and unforgettable. On one of my visits to Cape Town, she insisted the we visit a catholic retreat centre called Schoenstatt. Although initially dubious, I relented as I knew that she was a class act and would always introduce me to places that were hidden treasures.

In the middle of the retreat was a little chapel that was covered in vine and probably seated no more that twenty people. Inside the chapel there were statues of Mary and the angel Gabriel surrounded by many candles and freshly cut flowers. There were two beautifully painted stained glass windows that let in a fresh, crisp afternoon breeze. The most special quality of this place was an overwhelming feeling of serenity. Only a class act would know where to find such an environment and make this a meaningful and memorable experience.

Reflection

  1. Do you live by your highest personal standards?
  2. How can you improve the lives of others by introducing greater beauty and uniqueness into every experience?

Written by Dr Rani Samuel
Clinical Psychologist