Today was a jam packed day for me, full of catch up work and a fury to both respond and get things out for response. I sat down at my desk just before 8 AM and I made myself leave my office just after 4 PM to go do some errands and now I’m back, just shy of 5:30 PM. 

I like my work and I like to be busy, I even like to be a bit challenged to get it all done in the allotted time. Today I did not like it. Today I was frustrated. Today I would have described my day as ‘gone to the crapper’ at approximately 9 AM. 

Then as I was attempting to get one more thing out the door I had an impromptu visit from my Dad who I had spoken to earlier in the day. When we spoke in the morning I had reacted strongly to something he said, but in fairness, he didn’t have all my information. And here he stood at my door. I took a deep breath and opened my door. And there he stood with a small gift in hand that he just wanted to drop off. My day changed. My mood changed. One act of kindness and there I was, grateful and changed.   

I need to point out that my father didn’t have to apologize for anything and that was not his intention. I guess I don’t know his true intention, but I presume he realized my day had ‘gone to the crapper’ and just wanted to shine a bit of light on me. I accepted. My deep breath before opening the door was so that I was collected and not rude, so that I was in control of my emotions and so that I could receive him well. 

My Dad paid attention and that is what I am most grateful for, the gift could have been anything, the best part was that he noticed my distress from our earlier conversation and took to act in a kind way. He took to control what he could and attempt to make it better.

What a lesson. 

As a leader it is so important that you notice how your team is doing. Not necessarily by asking them, but that’s not a bad idea either. The important part of asking ‘how they are doing’ is the second step is to actually listen to their answer. So if you ask, be prepared to accept the answer even if its longer than you had hoped. I believe paying attention to the non-verbal actions of your team you can learn a lot about their state of mind. Are they making eye contact? How quick to anger are they? What is the short temper really about? Do they need a break? Or a moment of your dedicated time? Has something gone wrong that they are battling to fix? Do they need help? Do they need kindness? Do they need their leader? What is the possible positive side effect? 

Here is the other interesting thing that happened; my Dad showed kindness to me and then I was more patient and more kind to those I encountered in the rest of my day. I assure you I was not in the frame of mind to be kind, patient or generous. Nope, I was more inclined to be far less nice things. Its a good domino effect.

Paying attention translates to caring. My Dad showed he cared by simply taking five minutes to stop by and give me a small gift. That small gift tells me he pays attention to me, that he thinks about me and that he knows me because he bought me M&Ms, which is my favourite candy. Paying attention tells me I matter. 

Oprah said it before and it was my ah-ha moment – ‘a fundamental need of all human beings is to know that they matter.’ Agreed, and proven consistently, most recently today. 

May we all have someone who takes the time to notice. May we all be the kind of leader who notices. May we all remove ourselves momentarily from our busy day to communicate our radar is on and its working and we are paying attention.  

From a day gone to the crapper to a day with a very good reminder.