By Jim Whitt
Years ago my friend Becky Teeter shared a book with me written by Joyce Landorf entitled Balcony People. The author uses a metaphor comparing life to a glass sphere, much like a fish bowl. In the bottom two thirds of the sphere is dark, murky water. In the top third is clean, fresh air. The basement people reside in the murk and the mire. They not only are on a dead end street but they insist on trying to pull others down with them. On the other hand, the balcony people live in the clean, fresh air of the upper third, encouraging others to join them.
Becky Teeter was a balcony person. She passed away on June 14 at the age of 60 after battling a year-long illness. I met Becky and her husband Monty more than 25 years ago when Teeter Irrigation became one of my first consulting clients. That was the beginning of a business relationship that continues to this day. More importantly it was the beginning of a friendship that has made a monumental impact on my life. The Teeter family became like a second family to me. They helped shape my purpose-based approach to life and business. It was during one of my workshops that Becky discovered her purpose in life: “To encourage others to encourage.”
Becky was profoundly influenced by Florence Littauer’s book, Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement. So much so that Becky traveled the country as a speaker sharing the Silver Boxes message. The book was inspired by a little girl who told Littauer that our words should be like little silver boxes with bows on top. Everyone who attended Becky’s service received a little silver box with a bow on top and Becky’s picture on the side. Inside the box was a slip of paper with these words from Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” That’s the best definition of encouragement ever written.
We’ve all been asked what we would like to have written on our headstone or said about us in our eulogy. I had the privilege of sharing how Becky fulfilled her purpose at her service. There were close to a thousand people in attendance — a small sample of the people who were beneficiaries of her encouragement. And because she encouraged others to encourage, her purpose continues to be replicated many times over. I can’t think of any greater tribute to a person’s life than to say they not only discovered their purpose in life but spent their life fulfilling it.
There is no shortage of muck and mire in the world. It’s in the news, at work, at school, in our neighborhoods and in our communities. Basement people thrive in muck and mire and they are constantly recruiting others to join them because as we all know misery loves company. They insist on telling everyone what’s wrong, what won’t work and why it won’t work. It’s hard not to get discouraged while being constantly bombarded by negativism.
We choose to be basement people or balcony people. That choice affects the lives of the people we interact with every day. “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life forever,” said Zig Ziglar. Becky Teeter impacted a lot of lives because she took time to share her silver boxes with others during her time on earth. And because her purpose is inscribed on her headstone she’s still encouraging us to encourage others. It’s an invitation to join her on the balcony.
Editor’s note: Becky was born on this day August 4, 1954.
Copyright © 2015 Jim Whitt Purpose Unlimited 918.494.0009 Permission to reprint: You may reprint this article in your own print or electronic newsletter, but please include the following: “Reprinted from the Purpose Unlimited E-Letter: For a free subscription, go to www.PurposeUnlimited.com.”