The Wake-Up Call

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A couple of years ago a gentleman who worked on one of my teams died very suddenly and unexpectedly. He was an extremely nice person who was generous with his time and extremely good at what he did. Everybody who worked with him enjoyed the experience. I attended the wake to pay my respects and to pass along the sentiments of our organization; I heard a similar refrain from those around regarding his personality and demeanour. I always regretted not finding enough time to have known him better.

The Wake-up CallLast Thursday, in my hotel room, the phone rang at 3:15 am with my wake-up call. After thanking her for the call, the pleasant voice on the other end of the line said “you`re welcome and I trust you have a memorable day.”

It struck me that morning, that in the hustle and bustle of our busy working lives, we not only miss out on many things that should be priorities for us, family and friends just to mention two obvious ones, but we also completely miss the wake up calls that life brings our way – like a sudden death or the remarkable words of a stranger calling to wake you up! She hoped I would have a memorable day!

How many wake-up calls have you missed – like when you discovered that:

You are not perfect and neither is anyone else

We all make mistakes, lose patience, snap, and make really stupid decisions. But how often, in a moment of self realization, did we take that reality and determine to treat our employees differently when they fell short of the mark or failed. Or did we continue to foster a double standard – it`s ok for me not to be perfect but my team needs to be! If any part of that scenario is true for you, then you missed a wake-up call.

How about the time you realized:

You often judge others unfairly

It is easy to do. We do not know everything that is going on in the lives of those around, and yet we are very prone to judge. Early in my public service career we had a co-op student in our office that seemed disengaged in meetings and slow to follow the flow of many discussions. Many people, including me, assumed wrongly that she was lazy. We found out later that she had very poor eyesight, and a very cruel person had taken her glasses, and she could not afford to replace them – it made reading and following nearly impossible! I judged her unfairly, and I`ve tried very hard never to forget that lesson. If any or all of that story is similar to something you have experienced, and you continue to judge others unfairly, you missed a wake-up call!

Work gets busy and we are pulled in every possible direction. We need to pay attention to the priorities in our lives, but equally important, we need to pay attention to the wake-up calls life is kind enough to scatter through our lives.

And by the way, to the pleasant voice that woke me up that morning on the phone, I tried to do everything I could to have a memorable day!

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After 20 years of progressive leadership within the Canadian Public Service, as an executive and thought leader, Bruce has turned his attention to full time writing, speaking, training and business advisory services. Focusing his work on his long term passion for leadership development, has led to an ongoing focus on exploring current leadership topics through his leadership blog TheModernLeader.ca, and his newly released book - Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe. Bruce holds two masters degrees, along with a professional designation in project management. Bruce calls Ottawa, Ontario Canada home, where he shares his life with his wife Susan, and his two university aged daughters.

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