The True Gentleman – A lesson in Impact

The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from goodwill and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

John Walter Wayland (Virginia 1899)

This is one of my favourite pieces. The author, John Walter Wayland, died at age 89. He was a teacher and authored 30 books. Yet, his most notable accomplishment is the 123 words above. This text was his submission for a competition in the local newspaper. He won the competition held by “The Baltimore Sun” for the best definition of a true gentleman.

I bet he didn’t think much of this piece as he’s an accomplished author. Yet, what he wrote had such an impact on readers that it was shared and reproduced long before the age of social media and is still shared today, more than 50 years after his death. His definition of a true gentleman had more of an impact on future generations than the 30 books he wrote.

Never underestimate the impact of small efforts. Writing a book is necessary if you have to compile lessons or thoughts that build on each other in an incremental manner. If you need to take someone from point A to point B.

123 words can have far more impact than 90 000 words. Just because you don’t have time to write a book doesn’t mean you can’t leave an impact. Write and release it into the world, no matter how small it may be. You’ll never know the impact it may have.

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