Like many people, I looked up to Betty White and was saddened to hear about her passing. She was a vibrant woman and it seemed like she might live forever.
Beyond my love of her work on television, Betty and I shared a love for animal welfare. If you’ve been on a Zoom with me, you may have noticed a special visit from my foster cat on screen. Likewise, Betty continually supported animal rescue charities throughout her life and was a staunch advocate for animals – and people! – who needed support.
They say never meet the people you admire because you’ll be disappointed. That wasn’t the case with Betty. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Betty on the set of Hot in Cleveland, and she was as warm and delightful as I hoped. She was a lovely person and I cherish the few minutes that I spent with her.
Betty’s life offers three lessons that align with lean and continuous improvement. The timing of these lessons with the New Year might give you an idea for a New Year’s resolution or give you an idea for your next steps toward excellence.
- Tell people that you appreciate them
When she passed, her agent, Jeff Witjas commented that Betty knew how much she was beloved.
“She knew it, but I would tell her often,” Witjas told People magazine.
It doesn’t matter if someone already knows that you appreciate them. Wear your appreciation for others like a badge of honor and remind those in your professional and personal lives what they mean to you. If someone on your team consistently lives up to or exceeds your expectations, tell them! If a coworker goes out of their way to help you solve a problem, tell them! If a family member or friend brings joy and love into your life, tell them!
- Have a sense of humor and be positive
Betty White once said that the key to her long life was having a sense of humor. In her own life, she looked at the positive side of things and avoided dwelling on the negative.
When disappointments arise learn a lesson from it, fix the issue, and then move on. Having a poor short-term memory about negative things is a positive for your mental health and will allow you to be more productive and prosperous.
- Be genuine and surround yourself with people who allow you to be who you are
Betty White was always true to herself and projected this out to the world. In the 1940s, her first two marriages failed, in part because her husbands tried to get her to stop acting. She knew she would not be her authentic self if she didn’t pursue her passion and she couldn’t become the person she wanted to be. In the 1960s, she met Allen Ludden who became the love of her life and supported her true self and her career until his death in 1981.
Beyond having a supportive partner, she was always true to herself in the roles she played, the causes she championed, and everything she did. She knew her True North and followed it until the end with grace and positivity.
As you move into 2022, take a moment to reflect on what we can take from Betty White’s life and legacy. You’ll be better for it and so will those around you. I know I am.
Happy New Year, and as always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.