I guess it was my weekend for movies that shove mortality to the front of my thinking.
My wife and I saw 50/50 in the theater. The story revolves around a young man with spinal cancer and a glimpse into his search for healing and survival. At home we ended up watching Sister’s Keeper, different but with the same theme. But, just in the nick of time a loved one gave me an antidote I’d like to share with you – a nine minute video celebrating life.
Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades. As a visual artist, Louie has created some of the most iconic and memorable film moments of our time. For TED Talks, Schwartzberg presents a video of gratitude and uses the fresh eyes of a child and senior to help us stop and take notice.
Character Move: I challenge you to take nine minutes, stop yourself from what you’re doing now, to soak in the following video. Louis helps us pause to inhale that which is present. And this very moment is all we really know for sure that we have. One moment our mortality will be standing right beside us. Hopefully your investment in the nine minutes will be an insight into how to make the distance longer and richer.
Having Gratitude for life in the Triangle,
Ok… I’m getting on a train going to London Paddington from Chippenham (England). In front of me are several elderly folks with heavy luggage. I offer to step aside as the train stops and help them get their luggage on the train. They are grateful. I enjoy helping and am clearly the beneficiary of giving a little kindness.
Later, I’m on Kensington High Street in London. I find a Starbucks and am about to enter when a group of four people appear. I open the door and let them in before me. They look at me with suspicion, like, “Why doesn’t this guy want to order his coffee before us? He’s not in that much of a hurry!? Why?!” I notice shock and concern is expressed by the four.
As you might have been able to figure out, I travel a lot and notice that it’s mostly an “every person for him/herself” situation on all transportation activity. So often I’ve seen people struggling with heavy bags off luggage racks or the overhead bins… sometimes to their physical detriment. Therefore, I have started a personal campaign to help someone with a bag every trip I’m on. I do not want to patronize anyone but when I see people struggling, I try and lend a hand.
Opening doors? Letting people in line? Being kind. Being generous of spirit without wanting anything in return? These are actions completely in our control. And we get the benefit and goodwill without asking for it. Maybe that’s why Liberty Mutual has built an entire advertising platform around responsibility and doing the right thing.
In an office environment, it could mean helping a person struggling with a project, bringing an extra glass of water for a colleague at a meeting, opening doors for people going from one corridor to another, and ultimately just being present and aware of your teammates and surroundings. Where you go provides opportunities to practice Character every day.
As the CEO, I’m on most of the company’s email groups for better or worse. Sometimes I get the mundane… announcements of lost car keys, etc. However I keep an eye on one kinda mundane email usually entitled “Cakes!”
This is the email “shout out” in our UK office that pastries are available for all. Something or someone is being celebrated. Interestingly, the “morale” score in the UK has climbed with the frequency of the “CAKES!” emails. Why? I don’t know the exact science or statistical significance but I do know that celebration and generosity of spirit impact company morale in very positive ways. The more celebrations and hoopla the better.
My dad, now recently passed on, was in palliative care for about four months. On one of my last days on the floor with my dad I brought in two dozen donuts and thanked the nursing staff for their on-going, loving care. These health practitioners want two-dozen carbohydrate loaded “sugar bombs” as much as a flat tire. But they cheered and were grateful. The bigger issue relates to the acknowledgment, thank you, and respect that comes from thinking of others and in sharing. It is not the donut but the thought in the middle. It sounds silly and maybe even trite; its not.
Cakes! Donuts! …a little fuel for respect.
Bring some in today!