No matter how much you brace yourself in life and no matter how much you try to prepare for the future, life throws you curve balls and on occasion it even knocks you off your feet. Sometimes it is news you never expected and sometimes there are experiences you didn’t think would hurt so much.
This past week we received the awful news of a co-worker’s death during a tragic scuba diving accident. She was the type of person that always smiled and genuinely cared about others around her. She was fiercely opinionated but delivered her opinions with such grace that you rarely got offended. Her wife is also a Broker with our company so the news hit harder than ever knowing it affected more than one person we deeply care about. We feel fortunate that we had the great opportunity to witness their love for one another and in losing Jolie, our hearts ached for the life lost, for her family that survives, for our company and this community.
That night as I tried to digest the news, I found myself unwilling to move my hand from my husband’s side. Somehow it was as if touching him would keep him safe and next to me, forever. I hugged both my kids a little longer that next morning and didn’t think twice of the destruction they created during their morning routine. I saw things differently. I saw how fragile life is, how quickly things can change, and how precious every moment really is.
In my reflection of the recent events, I was reminded about one of the best gifts we can give one another and that is our undivided attention. To be present during each interaction, to listen without judgment and to speak clearly can change any relationship. When I worked at the police department there was one particular supervisor who knew the importance of being present. No matter what he was doing, the moment you stepped into his office he would stop, swivel his chair towards you and listen with a full heart. I remember being a “newbie” to the department and feeling so special when he took the time to speak with me. Throughout that 10-year business relationship, there was rarely a misunderstanding or hurt feelings and there is no doubt it was because of his willingness to STOP, listen, digest and THEN speak. He always had a way of making you feel important, regardless of rank and showed a level of respect rarely displayed elsewhere.
If we fail to listen to one another’s “small” talk, then how will we be prepared to listen to them in a moment of crisis? In this day and age, we are surrounded by so many distractions; cell phones, tablets, laptops, pagers (yes, they still exist), etc. As a society, we have grown to think those distractions are not only necessary but actually acceptable during face-to-face contact. This particular Sergeant knew if he could limit those distractions during interactions with his colleagues, he would separate himself for the herd. And, there is no truer statement. He was one of the most loved supervisors there and his “troops” would follow him anywhere because he listened.
As we all reflect on how precious life is, as well as the unpredictable nature of how long we will have on Earth, my hope is that you take a moment to slow things down a bit. To really relish in the relationships that you have and spend some true quality time with those who are important to you. You never know when you’re making an impression on someone or how greatly your act of kindness or demonstration of respect will impact him or her. We have said it before and will say it again, Kindness Matters. It’s really that simple.