Leadership: How We Treat People

Lessons from a friend.

This morning I lost someone who brought so much laughter and joy to all those around him.  Ben Meyer – a caring friend, committed teammate, and wonderful person – lost his battle with cancer.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend who lost his mother to cancer at a young age. I asked him,”How do you continue on in life after such a devastating loss?”.  He said, “We have no choice… we live and continue to model and teach the lessons that my mom taught us.  Her legacy lives on each day through me, my brothers, my students, and our children.”

There has been much talk on Facebook about the laughter that Ben brought so many of us with his story-telling and positive outlook on life; you had no choice but to get sore cheeks from laughter when he was telling his legendary stories.  No matter how many times you heard them, (because there was always someone there that had not yet herd them), his strength in re-telling it sent tears rolling down our faces.  Just 3 days ago, when he was struggling to talk, he retold one last story to 5 of us surrounding him in the hospital… that is what he was all about – making people smile.

He treated EVERY person around him with the same care, energy and happiness that just made you feel like you were better because you spent time with him.  Ben was a leader and he knew his strengths.  He never hacked down those around him; instead he chose to build everyone else up.  Ben was not the best ball player… but he played on the best teams because of the positive impact he had on others.

My director of instruction said to me the other day, “People do not remember positions or rank or certificates… they remember how you treat people”.  Ben treated everyone as if he was so glad that you were near him at that moment.  You had no choice but to “catch” his positive energy.  Ben will always be remembered… for the wonderful way he treated people.

The legacy will continue... all smiles, all the time.

When someone passes on, we often hear the good things that he/she brought to our lives.  For Ben Meyer, he heard this throughout his life because that is how he led his life – it was all about the good things.  He continually challenged himself and savoured the moments.

Ben taught me a lot as a person but the most important lesson was a simple but  essential one: treat people well.  I am thankful for the 11 years I knew him.  It is now up to those of us who knew him to continue to model and teach the lessons he taught us… and the impact and legacy of Ben Meyer will continue on forever.

We love ya Benny…

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Chris, I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss! What a touching tribute to a dear friend. It sounds like he taught you a lot, and your post reminded us all of this important lesson: treat people well.

    Thinking of you during this hard time!

  2. Chris,
    So sorry for your loss. Treating people well is a truly awesome legacy to leave in life. It’s inspiring to hear you spreading his message so eloquently.

  3. Ben must have been proud to have so many good people in his life… people that were with him right to the end of his time here. Just knowing he has so many good friends must have been such a comfort in his last days. It sounds like he spent his days wisely and, like you say, treated people well and was treated well by those who were fortunate to be able to spend time with him.

  4. Chris – so sorry to hear about the loss of someone so obviously dear to you and many others. It is never an easy road when we’re dealing with the passing of a loved one. He had such an obvious impact on you, and your post is, as Aviva already mentioned, a wonderfully touching tribute to him and his legacy. Thoughts are with you.

  5. Chris,

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Ben sounds like he was a wonderful person and friend. I love his lasting legacy. I’m sure you, his other friends, and family will make him proud as you continue where he left off.

    How fortunate you all were to have such a wonderful person in your life who truly made a difference.

    Thinking of you,

  6. Chris,

    Sorry for your loss. This is a nice post to honor your friend’s legacy. Also, makes you stop and think about the little things that we often lose sleep over. Great post and like always, I value your insight in not only school and leadership, but being a great father and person.

  7. Chris,

    So sorry to hear about your loss. How we treat people and the relationships we foster will ultimately dictate the legacy we leave. It sounds like Ben understood this and his legacy will continue to inspire those whose lives he touched.

  8. Chris- I am sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like his stories will need to be repeated in the months/years to come. What a nice tribute to your friend. -Lisa

  9. So sorry to hear about your loss. Your comments are a reminder we ALL need sometimes about what’s important-and that we can’t always be sure that we will have a second chance to say the kind words we wanted to say to someone. As we are reminded in Surrey Schools in our work with kids…”every child, every chance, every day”. People always remember how they were (or weren’t) cared for.

  10. Thank you so much to all that have commented and left their thoughts here. It has been a whirlwind of a weekend as I have been connecting with old friends and teammates… all sharing the stories of Benny. Social media (Facebook) has allowed so many of us to reconnect and share the good times we had with Ben.

    My friend Simon Ibell (www.ibellieve.com) once said to me, “we always make the effort to attend someone’s funeral… the challenge is to make the effort when they are still with us”.

  11. Chris – I’m sorry to hear of this loss, but paying Ben’s legacy forward, and opening up yourself so others can learn from him, is leadership in its most profound, powerful form. Best to you and your school community moving forward.

  12. Great post! It sounds like you were all better for knowing your friend!

  13. Beautiful reminder, friend, of what’s really important — both in leadership and in life. If we all kept ourselves centered like Benny, our world would be a more powerful place, wouldn’t it?


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