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Reality , check, one, two.

October 10th, 2017

Reality has a way of sneaking up on us when we least expect it. Like most, I need a serious reality check sometimes. Recently, I had a client cancel a string of events for a Presidential Inauguration. They cancelled late on Friday and I was out of the office, everything was done through email.  My first response was that cancelling was not a problem and I shot off an email saying so. After thinking about it, I sent a second email letting them know that we had purchased a large number of plants for them and that they would probably die before I was able to sell them to another client. They responded immediately that they would find a way to use them, not to worry and they apologized again for cancelling. We agreed that we would talk on Monday morning. They had still not offered a reason for the cancellation and I had never asked.


When I got to the office on Monday, I received an email from their purchasing agent explaining the reason for the cancellation. Their new incoming President was from Puerto Rico and had family there. Based on the widespread destruction she decided that she needed to help her family and others instead of celebrating her installment as the University’s next President. Talk about a reality check. Words can’t describe how small and stupid I felt as I was reading this email. Here I was worried about our outlay of some money and she was dealing with much greater issues. Of course I sent another email to my client apologizing for my insensitivity and told them not to worry about the plants.


That same morning, as I was heading to work I heard about the shootings in Las Vegas. This one hit closer to home on several levels. First, we have 2 people that have worked for us for years who live there. The night of the shooting, they were scheduled to leave to fly out to a job for us in the Midwest. At the time of the shootings, they were heading to the airport, which is not too far from Mandalay Bay and heard sirens and saw emergency vehicles. They got to the airport and were told it was closed; their flight would be delayed. They did eventually get to fly out later that night. Second, we also work with a number of people, as well as organizations, that are heavily involved in the concert industry. Their posts on social media for a 48 – 96-hour period were heart wrenching. Concerts should be fun, joyous occasions, a haven from the normal grind, not a place where lives are lost and families destroyed.


In the days that followed, I made it a point to pay attention to what people (myself included) complained about. It is startling what we see as issues or problems. Weather is a big one, a few sprinkles and gray cloud cover is apparently a pretty big deal to some. I’m sure the folks in Puerto Rico that still don’t have power, water, shelter, or food would beg to differ. Many of the folks in the Caribbean, on those islands like St. Thomas and St Marteen, who are facing a rebuilding process that by some estimates will take years, may also challenge us on a few drops of rain being a problem.  It really is all about perspective and what impacts us directly.


So what is the takeaway here? In fact, there are several:

  • Keep your eye on what is really important. Ignore the surface inconveniences and concentrate on the real problems.
  • Sending thoughts and prayers to those in need is nice but not overly impactful. As my mom always said, actions speak louder than words. There is a lot you can do; make a donation of money, needed goods, clothes, or blood.
  • You don’t need a disaster, natural or otherwise, to get involved. Nor does the disaster need to be thousands of miles away. We all have needs right in our own communities.


One of the things that I learned that day was to ask a few more questions, find out what people are experiencing before sending an, unknowingly, insensitive email that you may regret later. What that incoming President did is something that we all should be doing; putting others before ourselves. That is the mark of a true leader.

Posted in the category Happenings.

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