This might not be the first time you’ve read my name in the pages of SUCCESS. My co-worker Jesus Jimenez, a gifted writer and fellow frustrated Texas Rangers fan, included me in his article last year about everyday mentors. I was flattered as he talked about how I was respected around the office.
I’d never thought too deeply about respect or being respected. Respecting others was automatic, just another of the social mores my parents instilled in me and my siblings. But then I remembered one particular incident from my youth.
I was in fifth grade when I learned a lesson that stays with me. I come from a family of nine kids, and for most of my childhood, I shared a cramped bedroom with two of my older brothers. It wasn’t unusual for us to fight over trivial things. Mostly words and shoves were exchanged rather than punches.
What started this particular dust-up, I don’t recall. The incident is fuzzy and blends in with a bunch of others, but I know it ended in a minor injury to my brother and a grounding for me. I also received a Dad-assigned essay on respect.
So on the walk home from school the next day, I sat down at the corner of Highgrove and Lakemont with my best friend Bevan Sharpless and wrote the essay. I don’t remember all that I wrote. Most of it was probably trying to justify my actions. But three pages of large cursive writing later, I came to a conclusion: Respect started within me.
Related: Self-Respect Starts With Self-Care
Of course, the concept of self-respect was still hard to wrap my 11-year-old head around. But I understood honesty, good manners and the need to take responsibility for my actions, all basic principles of self-respect. It’s said that if you don’t respect yourself, it’ll be more difficult for you to respect others.
I turned in my essay to Dad and apologized to my brother. And while there have been disagreements between us over the years, there is still undeniable respect for one another.
So when it comes to respect, think of it less as Aretha Franklin demanding “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and more The Staple Singers advising to “Respect Yourself.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of SUCCESS magazine.