Likeability has made Betty White the woman with the longest television career (Guinness World Records). She is loved by many in every generation. She was born January 17th, 1922, which makes her 95 years-young. She is widely admired.
Carol and I were in the Burberry Store in London buying Carol a new coat. The man helping us was in his twenties. When he learned we were from Minnesota, he was very excited. “The Golden Girls is my favorite show! Betty White went to Saint Olaf. Is there really a Saint Olaf in Minnesota?” he asked. When I told him that my oldest daughter had graduated from St. Olaf, he thought we must be celebrities.
So why does this young man in London … and so many other people of every age … love Betty White? When you mention Betty’s name, most people smile. A friendly and nice persona has been Betty’s magic. She is engaging. She has a sense of humor. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. She demonstrates wisdom. She demonstrates the engagement and energy most of us hope to have when we are 95 years-young.
So does “nice” at work mean one is weak? One of my Boston clients wisely said, “Don’t confuse nice with weak.” It takes courage, wisdom, and humility to be nice and not weak. It has worked well for Betty, and it’s a worthy objective for all of us.
Age is relative. Harvard Professor Ellen Langer found that helping people think younger improved their health and happiness. Betty has not let age stop her from fully engaging. Being optimistic makes you, and the people around you, happier.
When Betty White was asked what was most important to her, she said, “Professionalism. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be prepared, and be humble.”
It’s good advice for all of us at any age!