Other People Matter
In honor of Dr. Christopher Peterson (1950-2012)
Posted Oct 10, 2012
“Other People Matter” – Dr. Chris Peterson (1950 – 2012)
As I sat at the first world conference on positive psychology I was filled with nervous anticipation. I was just accepted into UPENN’s MAPP program and I was in awe of all the brilliant minds that surrounded me. I was humbled by the fact that in a few short months these minds would be attempting to let me in on what they knew about positive psychology.
Dr. Christopher Peterson opened the conference with his classic line ‘Other People Matter’ so simple, concise and to the point…this was the Chris Peterson that I would come to know and respect. He was to become one of the most inspirational and reachable teachers that I have ever had in my entire academic career.
But that day I was simply a student. One of thousands of attendees at a conference on a field of study he had helped to develop. Right before the keynote speech that was set to close out a whirlwind weekend I decided….as most students would….to hit up the bar for a beer. As I sat there pondering all that I had learned, a booming voice came from behind me: “Those are some great shoes…”. Turning towards the voice I saw that I was face to face with one of the greatest minds in positive psychology… Dr. Christopher Peterson. Blushing with excitement I thanked him and offered to buy him a beer. “I wish I could but I have a speech to give in just a few minutes…but I really do like those shoes.”
As he gave his speech on the future of positive psychology I sat in wonder that this man, with all he had to do that day….took the time to tell someone that he liked their shoes. Christopher Peterson embodied his belief that ‘Other people matter’. You could see it in his interactions with his students, his colleagues, his friends, and yes even nicely shod stranger. ‘Chris’ (as he eventually insisted I call him) talked the talk…but unlike so many of us…he also walked the walk.
The world lost a great man yesterday in his passing. As with most passings the stories of the impact he had on people’s lives are coming out of the woodwork. So many people have stories similar to mine, stories of how Chris took the time to make the people he interacted with feel special, perhaps that was ultimately his greatest strength.
As much as his passing saddens me, I am also more invigorated and inspired to continue on his legacy. Chris was not a man who would want us to mourn his passing; he would want us to celebrate in his life. So today, in his honor, I will endeavor to make someone out there feel special, I will let someone know that they matter, and I will do it all with the passion and authenticity that I felt from Chris.
I encourage you all to do the same, in honor of a great man, today do something that show’s that ‘Other People Matter’.
I am sure that Dr. Christopher Peterson will be watching over all and smiling as he finally settles down and has a beer.
Thank you Chris, for all you have done, you will not be forgotten.
In honor of Dr. Christopher Peterson (1950 – 2012).
Read Dr. Peterson’s final prophetic blog posting here