> Spirituality > Personal Growth

Make Yourself the Norman the Doorman of Judaism

June 22, 2020 | by Rabbi Philip Moskowitz

The secret to greatness is consistency, dedication and integrity.

There is nothing traditional about this year’s graduation season.

In addition to schools grappling with how to properly acknowledge these milestones in a creative and meaningful way, commencement speakers have also had to find their unique way to share an impassioned message to the graduates. Bill Gates encouraged people to “use your voice and your vote to insist on policies that create a healthier, better future for everyone everywhere.” Lebron James implored them to “pursue every ambition, go as far as you can possibly dream and be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community.” And Oprah Winfrey issued the following challenge: “Can you, the class of 2020, show us not how to put the pieces back together again but how to create a new and more evolved normal, a world more just, kind, beautiful, tender, luminous, creative whole?”

What struck me was how typical these speeches were for a very atypical graduation year Change the world, make your mark on it, dream big, challenge the status quo, and don’t let the “old folks” tell you how to do things – themes that run through the majority of commencement speeches given over the past thirty years.

I think they miss the mark.

In reality, most graduates won’t change the world. Most won’t be trendsetters who upset the status quo and challenge the fundamental mores of our society. Most will get a job, start a family, work hard to pay the bills and put food on the table, and try to do their small part in bettering their communities. Most will find their path to greatness and fulfillment not through earthshaking experiences, but in the beauty and gratification of purposeful, meaningful every-day living. And that is really the secret to greatness: consistency, dedication and integrity.

Until his retirement at 85, Norman Pashoian greeted visitors at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston for 66 years. “Norman the Doorman,” as he was affectionally known, opened doors for politicians and powerbrokers, actors and musicians, and everyone in between.

Norman Pashoian in action

He greeted Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and his son John F. Kennedy. During a visit by Elizabeth Taylor, he carried her two dozen bags inside. And he was there when his favorite guest, Winston Churchill, stayed there in 1949.

But when asked what he remembered most about his 66 years at the Ritz, he said something remarkable for its plainness about himself: “I just do my job.”

I admire Norman the Doorman. Norman’s historic life is a reminder that success isn’t always judged by a big moment here or a headline-grabbing moment there. A meaningful life is oftentimes judged by the day-to-day, consistent grind. It’s about showing up to work every day and doing the little things that matter to people. Success is found by consistently doing small things that matter.

Unlike the theme of so many great American personalities, this is my message to our 2020 graduates: find the meaning and purpose in those things that you do with consistency and regularity. See and appreciate the beauty of “just doing your job” and don’t ever think that those efforts are trivial or insignificant. Your relationships won’t be defined by the gift you give on an anniversary or birthday but rather by the little, constant things that you do to show people in your life that you care. Success at your job won’t come from doing a big project just once, but by conducting yourself with honesty, integrity and professionalism day in and day out. And your growth in your relationship with God won’t come at a concluding Yom Kippur service once a year or at a grand celebration marking the completion of the Talmud once every seven-and-a-half years. It will come from the seemingly unceremonious, daily dedication to Him and His service – by showing up to minyan, dedicating time daily to study His Torah, and performing daily acts of kindness.

Ultimately, do your best, put in your full effort, and make yourself the Norman the Doorman of Judaism.

Related Posts

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram