A number of years ago at my sons’ Taekwondo class I watched two exchanges that I still remember that remind me about how important a person’s name is.
The first occurred when a boy about 5 years old came in. The teacher, a 7th-degree black belt, asked what his name was and he replied in a voice too quiet to be heard clearly. “Jonathon?” the teacher asked. Again, a quiet answer from the boy. “Jonavon?” asked the teacher. Then the boy’s mother answered for him, “Donovan.”
The teacher looked at Donovan and said, “Donovan, that is your name. When someone asks you your name, shout it out. DONOVAN!” And the little boy, with a smile, yelled, “DONOVAN!”
Our name is the first way that people identify us. I hope that all children learn to be proud of their name and who they are. We should say our name with pride when someone asks.
“It means that I care enough about you to learn your name”
Ten minutes later, the same teacher was beginning a class. Of the 10 students there, more than half were there for the first time. He told them that he had taught for many years and sometimes had trouble remembering names, so he asked what it meant if he asked someone what their name was. A small boy answered, “It means that you care enough to learn our name.” “Right!” the teacher replied, “If I call you by the wrong name, you need to tell me. If you don’t, I will call you the wrong name until you graduate from college. Let me know your name.”
That concept, “It means that I care enough about you to learn your name” is so important. How many people do you see every day, or maybe even work with, whose name you do not know? I challenge everyone to learn the name of one person this week. Taking it one more step, imagine how many more people we would all know if we learned someone’s name every day.
Let’s start right now. “Hello, my name is Brian, what is your name?”
Brian Hock, CMA