On July 17th, 2017 a very good friend of mine and of the automotive industry, Alan Ram, died while piloting one of his private airplanes. On Friday July 21st, my wife and I attended his memorial service along with a couple of hundred other friends, family and business associates. As you might imagine, there were many tears that fell that day, but there were also a lot of laughter, memories and stories shared. It was no surprise to anyone that knew Alan that this would be the case. During his memorial service, there were things revealed about my friend that when learned, made you even more proud to have known him and to have been able to share parts of your lives together. I believe this feeling was extended to many, if not all of the people attending. Alan had the type of memorial service that deep within we all hope to have.
The simple reason that Alan had the type of memorial service he had is because he earned it. He did the great things that all of us have the opportunity to do ourselves every day. He worked hard, shared his time, gave his love, and willingly shared what he had with many who had far less. He gave so freely that he deserved the memorial service he had. So many are grieving his passing in big ways due to his outstanding character.
I believe and always have, that in every loss there is gain. What many gained, especially myself, was the urging to slow down, to work harder to become the kind of person that would gain the unequaled respect that Alan earned. I know those out there that claim they do not care what others think and they couldn’t care less about what people say after they pass. I respect that. But who doesn’t want to people to think well of them while they are living? Your word and your actions are will dictate the level of respect you get from others. To get respect I think is a fairly simple thing to earn. I think it is as simple as following the steps that Alan followed and executed on a regular permanent basis.
- Respect and love yourself. Accept who you are and what you can and cannot do. You cannot make anyone else happy if you are not happy yourself.
- Put your spouse/significant other first on the list of people to love, respect and give complete loyalty to.
- Put your children and their needs on your list second only to your spouse/significant other. Instill in them the goodness that allows them to develop character. Loving them when they need love and loving them when they do not. Be a parent and not their friend. Make the hard and unpopular decisions.
- Work every day at work like you would expect others to work if you were signing their check. Strive to be the absolute best that you can be in every task that you perform. Come in early, stay late, talk to one more person, make one more phone call, send on more email and send one more text. Become the person that others turn to when they have a concern. Lead when you need to lead and follow when it is best to follow.
- Telephone at least one extended family member a day. Telephone at least one old friend a day. Reach out to at least one person a day that may need your support and encouragement. Contact an old enemy and try to make amends. Contact people who helped you in the past and tell them thanks for what they did.
- Address concerns and problems on every level quick and efficiently.
- Willingly give your time and resources to as many people as you can that are need. To many, your time and attention is more valuable than any amount money or material items.
- Encourage others and give as many “hands up” as you can.
- Push yourself to try new things and constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone. Live life. Stop talking about it and do it.
- Thank your God every day.
Based on the conversations I had with the many who attended Alan’s memorial service, this is what Alan did. Knowing Alan, I can guarantee you he did not do these things so that he would have a bunch of people at his memorial service saying great things about him. I believe he did it because he knew deep down inside that it was the right thing to do. The American thing to do. The human thing to do.
In his passing, Alan left behind a tremendous legacy that has touched and will continue to touch many. Alan’s passing taught me that legacy is not decided by how much you acquired or have, but it is established by what you left behind. What Alan leaves behind is a legacy of what it means to set goals, conquer those goals and live life. What it means to be a friend, to be involved in family, your community, business and life itself.
Whether you care or not about what people say about you after you pass or not is irrelevant really. You should care what they think and how they view you as you live. To do so and live it the way Alan did would be to live a rich full life and be loved and respected directly or indirectly by many. To do anything less would likely result in a lonely unfulfilled life filled only with regret.
Through my whole friendship with Alan he often inspired me to do better and be the best and be more involved. Even in his passing he still has that affect on me as he has inspired me to be more than I am now by reaching out to more people and living life more fully. His inspiration will not soon past and is something we all can and should embrace.