I had a pretty significant failure recently. Here's what I learned.
I made a pretty significant failure recently. It’s okay, though. We all fail sometimes. We all fall down sometimes. We just need to ensure that we take lessons away from those failures. And the big lesson I learned from this failure is around the value of valuing.
When I was a teenager I thought I was pretty special. I thought I was pretty different. But it turns out I was actually pretty typical - I was morose, I was down, I was introverted, I had a lack of self-confidence, I was down on myself. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably clinically depressed. I was actually close to suicide. I thank the Lord that I don’t really know how close I was. You see, I had a few significant friends that really helped keep me off that edge.
One of those friends was my best friend from the time I was 14- and 15-years-old - Jeff. He didn’t judge me at all. In fact, he showed me that he believed in me. He showed me that I was significant and that I had value. He would literally give me pep talks some days and would even send me encouraging notes.
As many 14- and 15-year-olds are wont to do, I found and fell in love with a handful of classic rock bands - like The Doors. I loved to read, and I loved to read biographies about my favorite bands and musicians.
So when I was 14, I was thrilled to pick up a paperback copy of the Jim Morrison biography: No One Here Gets Out Alive. Now people can debate back-and-forth all day long on the literary value of this book. But to me, it was a fantastic story, and I read it multiple times.
Fast forward 30 years later.
We were packing up for a move recently. I was packing up books and deciding which books I wanted to keep and which books I wanted to sell to a used bookstore. I came across my copy of No One Here Gets Out Alive. For a brief minute I considered, “How much could I get if I sold this at a used bookstore? $1.00? $0.50?" I started flipping through the book, and I found the reason why I had kept it for all these years.
Jeff had written a note to me in one of the random pages of the book. It was a short note of encouragement. I remember that note and remember how it helped me in my teenage years. I had almost forgotten about that note. But I’ve never forgotten about the impact that Jeff made in my life. He made me feel significant. He made me feel valued.
I decided to keep the book. And I decided that I needed to reach out to Jeff and let him know how much he truly meant to me in my life and how much of an impact he made in my life. Even though I decided to reach out to him, life got in the way.
I say life got in the way. I say that I was too busy to reach out to him, but I really wasn’t. I can literally look at my phone during those months that I didn’t reach out to him and see how much time I spent on my phone and how much time I spent scrolling through social media. I clearly had the time to call him or to send him a note. But I didn’t.
Recently, one of my other close friends sent me a note asking, “Hey! Did you hear about Jeff?” I wrote back “no.” But based on the question, I had a pretty good idea (and I’m sure you do, too). Jeff had suddenly passed away. It was a heart issue. It was unexpected. It was a complete shock and surprise to his family. His parents were devastated. His sisters were devastated. I can only imagine how his children felt.
And while the tragic incident wasn't about me, I felt devastated, too. Because I knew that I had the chance to let someone know how significant they were. But I didn’t take that opportunity. I had an opportunity to help someone feel valued. But I didn’t take that opportunity.
How often do we let opportunities go by to let our people know how valued they are? Whether it’s family members, whether it’s friends, whether it’s people in our network, whether it’s our co-workers, whether it’s our team members, whether it’s our leadership, whether it’s our customers - everyone wants to feel valued. Everyone wants to feel significant. And if they don’t get that feeling, they’re not as effective in their life as they could be. They’re not as effective in their work as they could be.
And if people aren’t getting the validation and value that they seek, they will most likely leave you and go where they can find it. Sometimes those places where they find it are not the best places, like their phones.
Too many people are walking around in quiet desperation. Just like Pink Floyd sings, "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."
It may be the "English way," but it doesn't have to be your way. It doesn't have to be my way. It doesn't have to be our way.
With the Great Resignation, employees are leaving their employers at a significant rate today. One of the main reasons for that is not feeling valued in their roles.
You may value your team members, but do they know that? Have you ever let them know?
Why do we not let people know how valued they are? I think we’re afraid. It’s not a normal action to tell somebody a personal, emotional statement like that. And we’re usually afraid of going outside of the lines of normalcy. We’re usually afraid of being "not normal." But being normal is what holds us back.
Instead of being normal, be weird. Instead of being normal, be different. Being different is what helps you stand out from the crowd. Being different is what helps you brand out from the crowd.
So if you want to be seen as a leader that brands out from the crowd, then let your people know how valued they are. You can do that in a number of ways. It can be a handwritten note. It can be recognizing them in front of other people. It can be giving them a gift. It can be telling them to their face.
Let them know how valued they are. You’ll be able to recruit and retain the top talent if you do. Your team, and your organization, will be considered a destination station for people looking to head to once they leave where they’re not currently being valued, knowing that they can go somewhere where they are valued.
And you know what'll happen when you do this? They'll do the same to others, and they'll do the same to others, and so on and so on...
So I ask you - I implore you - take 5 to 10 minutes today that you would otherwise spin scrolling through your phone and reach out to some of your people. Let them know how significant they are. Let them know how valued they are. They will feel so much better, and you will, too.
And if you’re currently in a role where you’re not feeling valued in your position or you feel like your leadership isn’t valuing you or your work, reach out to me. I’d love to talk to you and learn more about the work that you’re doing. I’d love to have the opportunity to let you know how significant and valuable your work is. I’d love to have the opportunity to tell you how valued you are.
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