Manipal, Karnataka. Mid-70s. I was a student of engineering at MIT and also a member of the Manipal Junior Jaycees Club. We had many stalwarts from our parent Manipal Jaycees guiding us as mentors in public speaking. ( more about them later in a separate blog)
One of our distinguished and loved mentors Mr Garnet A Rego, Jt Controller ( Personnel), Syndicate Bank head office at Manipal was leaving for Kolkata on promotion as GM after a sterling record.
Mr Rego was known for his professional rectitude, integrity and people-oriented leadership qualities. A farewell function was organised at his office and some of us Junior Jaycees managed to attend.
Senior officers of Syndicate Bank paid glorious tributes to him in flowery language which he so richly deserved. Later a young woman employee working in his department rose and spoke just a few lines haltingly but her message and the way she conveyed has stayed with me ever since.
She said, “I am happy about Sir’s promotion but feel very bad that we will miss him in our office. How I wish someone would say it is the first of April today and the whole meeting is an April Fool joke and we’ll see Mr Rego back with us tomorrow.”
Nothing eloquent or grand about this message but the sincerity in her voice, the authenticity of her intent made it such a memorable message that it remains fresh in my memory after 45 years! Needless to add, she received a roaring applause that dwarfed the claps for the previous speakers.
A simple girl stole our hearts and influenced all of us with a sincere message. She merely ‘expressed’ herself well and we were duly ‘impressed’.
I learnt an important lesson that day. Titles may impress people. Expertise may command respect. Flamboyance may stun. Even if you don’t have a title or a designation or you haven’t yet proved your expertise, you can still influence your audience, associates, superiors or peers with your sincerity.
There are two interesting stories about the origin of the word, ‘sincere’.
“In ancient Spain during the Renaissance era, when the sculptors working overtime made any mistakes, they used wax or cera to hide the defects in their works. However, when exposed to full sunlight, the wax used to dissolve and their faults became apparent. Thus, sculptures without any defects came to be known as sin-cera, Spanish for “without wax” and later on, it originated the English word, sincere.” – Google search.
Another version disputes the Spanish theory and defines sincere as “pure, unmixed,” from Middle French sincere, from Latin sincerus, of things, “whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed,” figuratively “sound, genuine, pure, true, candid, truthful,” of uncertain origin. The ground sense seems to be “that which is not falsified.” Meaning “free from pretense or falsehood” in English is from 1530s.
I will end with this analogy- “You fall in love with personality but live with character. If you are sincere, the personality and character will match and you lead a happy married life. If not, you become a philosopher.” 😎😜 (Paraphrasing Socrates)