I have just attended the funeral of Alister Fraser who died aged 81 after serving his community selflessly for most of his life. Alister was the principal of Invercargill's largest intermediate school and a school inspector when I was beginning my career in teaching. He was a larger than life personality whose passion for education knew no bounds and yet we heard at the service how he constantly worried that his support of teachers was adequate enough and whether the job he did made a difference.
After Alister retired he continued supporting schools and teachers where he could and even gave his time, most mornings, on a busy school crossing. He was involved in community leadership for much of his retirement and worked part time at Anderson Park Art Gallery as an attendant and guide.
Alister spent much of his life in serving the communities he lived in and the remuneration he craved for was not financial, but the knowledge that he had made a difference in the lives of others. The church was seated to capacity for his funeral and the adjacent hall was also full, he had made a difference and the people in attendance were clear proof of that.
Alister was a unique man but I have known many people during my life for whom success isn't measured in dollar terms but the knowledge that they had done their best and the world had benefited from their existence. It is knowing these people that makes me question the need to pay our community leaders and CEOs massive salaries with the justification that you only get the best people if you pay top money. The best leaders are not motivated by greed alone.