Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recognizing Value

In today’s world of social media, text messaging, and video calls, the value of face to face conversations and interaction can sometimes be overlooked. The impact we have not only on others but on ourselves is being diminished in some ways by the very nature of the physical separation it causes. We must learn to build lasting friendships and relationships with others and then use the social media to keep us glued together.

I think that Shawn Achor would agree. His principal #7, social investment, is ringing loud and clear to me in the “investment” part of that statement. As when we make a deposit into a high yield bank account, it takes time for a return on that investment to be realized. That value came to me in vivid living color on three separate occasions and showed me that one-on-one conversations and connections with people must be, and should be the first level of order in sustaining and making a difference in not only one’s life, but in the lives of others.

On Monday I had lunch with a professional technical writer friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in some time. She has been trying to write a book about her Mother and the wonderful work she did for people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. She was looking for advice on an outline for this book. That someone, who writes for a living, felt comfortable talking about outlines to a writer “want to be” was a humbling and at the same time an honoring feeling for me. I did my best to give it justice and offer advice that was useful to her project.

Then on Wednesday, I received a call that gave me more validation as a serious writer while again pointing out the value of social investment. Another professional technical writer from “the old days” called out of the blue. During a particularly difficult time for him, he had read something in one of my blogs that seemed to spur him in some way. At the time he had called to talk about it, but I had not heard anything since. The follow-up conversation on just what that meant to him left me a bit teary eyed. (Note to self: ALWAYS call and say thank you to the people who make a difference in your life.) Here again, someone who writes for a living gave me validation as a writer and at the same time revealed that my social investment had indeed accrued over time.

One of the aspects of my job not listed in the description is to assist in employee morale building activities. I’m well suited to this, and seem to do it naturally. My company gives me free rein in all my ideas, which is a bonus. Recently I took a page from the “old days” and began to display employee talent on a long naked hallway with an “art in the hallways project.” My intension was to bring out the hidden talents among us. I had my ideas about how that would unfold, yet I am more than pleased at the ways I’m watching it happen. As the project began and the first pieces of photographic art went up, people who would not generally have connection with each other began to speak and interact as they stood together and commented on the works before them. It was a delight to witness. Then for the third time that week, I had conversation about writing.

As we stood admiring the photography, I asked an individual “do you have anything to contribute?” The answer was “yes” and that he seemed to enjoy a variety of arts including writing. He wants to write a story about his Dad and the great person he had been. His Dad, an average Joe, had touched the lives of so many people that 1,000 of them came to pay respects at his wake. It was yet again, a definitive example that how we relate and connect with others. His Dad had made small deposits over time that swelled into a vast wealth. People still are affected in positive ways for having known him.

I am reminded of a segment in Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” in which he asks “what do you want your children to say about you at your funeral.” I have had two beautiful examples of that this week in how my friend and the co-worker wish to honor the life of their parent. Years after they have departed this world, their deposits continue to enrich the lives of others.

I have had a small hiatus from writing to my blog, but I am back. Its title “Life and Motorcycle Travels” is more fully focused on the ”life” part in these adventures. The saddle, however, is where I get a lot of my inspiration. It lends itself so well to analogies for everyday life. Recently, it was lending information to me that I didn’t want to look at or acknowledge about myself. It can be hard to look in the rear view mirror and confront our weakness, fears and flaws. I could not write about them. It felt too raw. Yet these are the very examples I must talk about if I am to faithfully make deposits that will continue to pay dividends well into the future. I have after all been given a peak this week into my own account to witness firsthand how my deposits continue to grow. It’s an investment I can’t turn away from.