This was an emotional week for me at work. Monday I found out that a friend of seven years and my manager of three years, was leaving the company. I’ve felt a range of emotions this week and I’ve been ok with each emotion, dealing with them as they come. By that, I mean that if I feel sad, I don’t say “I shouldn’t feel sad”, I just allow myself to feel down for a while.
I learned this lesson when my mom passed away. There were times months after her death that I would become overwhelmed with grief and I’d think, “I should be stronger than this.” I operated in this way until a wise friend of mine told me to deal with the emotions that come with loss as they come. To not deny myself a certain feeling.
I spent this week riding in my car with radio off (99% of the time, I am listening to a book on audible) and thinking and praying – praying that I would have patience, wisdom and grace.
As I’ve been dealing with a range of emotions, I keep coming back to one thing I am continually grateful for – that I actually feel something at work. There are many days when I walk out feeling so excited and proud about what we have done for our customers. There are others where my team and I are in the middle of solving important problems and everything is clicking. There are also days when nothing seems to go right. When it’s 3pm and I’ve yet to get to any of the items on my to do list. And there are days when good friends, people you care about and who make work a brighter place, leave the company.
But in all this, I am feeling something.
I can’t imagine not being connected to our customers. I love hearing their stories. I love knowing that the stuff we make will help them through the tragedy of a great loss. I wish I would put myself in positions to know them better.
I can’t imagine not being connected to my co-workers. I love knowing what is going on in their lives. Asking how a sick mom is doing or how a child’s first week of school was are the kind of things that make a true connection.
Feeling comes with wanting to be vulnerable and by desiring to truly know people.
Our customers are real live human beings. They are not policy numbers, they are not a series of cash flows. They are people. With kids, and moms and dads. With jobs, with lives. They have bad days. They get sick. Some of them experience tragedy. But they are real.
My co-workers are also real live human beings. They are not just boxes on an org chart. They are not just a “direct report.” They have lives too. A lot of that life is shared with others at work, but much of it, some of the most important moments are outside of work.
I will never forget asking my wife to marry me, holding my baby girls for the first time or eulogizing my mother. But I will forget that awesome board presentation that I gave last year, the new product we developed this spring, and a million other moments like these.
I hope that emotions I feel at work, come back to people. To our customers and a my co-workers. Sure, it feels good to have a great quarter, to ship a new product, or to give a great presentation. But people matter – their lives matter. I hope and pray that my actions will let others know that I care more about the moments they will always remember, instead of those that we will all forget.