It doesn’t have to be bypass surgery. There are many other surgeries, disabilities and special needs that cause us to spend time away from our jobs and the people that make our daily routine so rewarding.
Work is a great source of stimulation, be it physical, emotional or psychological, and we miss it when it is taken away from us. For a child those same feelings occur when they miss a portion of school due to an illness or disability.
In most cases we are not looking for sympathy or special treatment, just a chance to get back what we lost when we were thrown a curveball that we grounded meekly back to the pitcher.
There are big things in this life and there are little things. Each has its place and its level of importance in our daily lives. And for most of us, a large percentage of our daily lives include work or school. The social circle that work creates is a valuable piece to our life balance and the camaraderie we feel as part of a team is something not easily replaced when we are at home healing or in a hospital getting treatment.
When the surgical team finished sewing me up after bypass surgery I wasn’t included in the rounds of fist bumps and high fives. They were my team, but I wasn’t on the team (I’m pretty sure surgeons fist bump, or possibly head butt in celebration of an artery well grafted).
Most people enjoy the aspects of being a team member and the workplace gives them the opportunity for that. You may be the guy at work that knows how to fix the copy machine. Or the lady that always remembers every co-workers birthday and passes around a card for everyone to sign. Those people are special. And when they aren’t around you notice. The company is not going to crumble if they are out sick, but your work day got worse because of their absence. And you can bet they missed work as much as you missed having that special person in your office that always hands you a cup of coffee as you are fading into that afternoon post lunch coma.
The work environment is a microcosm of life. We experience success, failure, joy, pain and a myriad of other emotions that shape us as human beings. We feel pressure and we bask in the sweet candy of success after a job well done. We learn from each other and have the ability to try new things and grow not only as people, but as role models.
Remember this when you go to work. So many of you in my circle of friends and past colleagues, through hard work and determination are in positions to effect change. You have risen to the levels that come along with important titles like Director, Vice President, Partner, or in some cases Owner.
You my friends, can lead this effort to allowing for an easy transition not only back to work for those that have suffered a severe bump in the road, but you can open the doors to a new employee and give an opportunity to someone that has been ignored due to preconceived notions or prejudices from the less evolved.
Don’t be the person that just walks past when you see someone struggling. Please don’t just pass on a prospective employee or client because they don’t act or look like everyone else. Don’t ignore someone that is lost and can’t find their way. Smile, say “good morning” and “thank you,” and so help me if I see you sitting comfortably on a bus, subway or Metro North while a little old lady is standing and losing her balance every time time we brake.
Imagine the impact your acts of kindness and respect to those of us with disabilities will have on your children. You all work so hard to raise your children right and by them witnessing magnanimous acts from their parents will have a lasting effect on everything they do. Real change doesn’t happen overnight but the more goodness they see in you the better chance we all have to help the neighborhood and raise the level of kindness for generations to come.
Our living years are finite, but our actions and impact are not. Work is only one piece of the puzzle but there are lessons between the walls of your office or the great expanses of your business that can change someone’s life, even if you don’t think it will. Step out of your shoes once and awhile and I promise good things will happen.
“A life is not important except in the impact is has on other lives,” said number 42 after his historic career in Brooklyn had come to an end.
The decisions we make, the people we help, will undoubtedly end up impacting more lives than you can possibly imagine.