Thirty-three years ago this week, I was told – courtesy of a big-above-the-fold newspaper headline – that I would be out of a job in less than a week. The Ottawa Journal – a daily broadsheet that served the Nation’s Capitol since 1885 was a few days away from its final publication. Difficult news for anyone to receive, but when you’re 11 years old, it’s absolutely devastating.
After all this time, I still remember that morning like it was yesterday. I remember it not because of the fact that I was about to lose my first and only job but for what my father did for me that morning.
At the time, my father was the principal at the local middle school – yes, he was my principal and we can talk about that later! – and the end of August is a busy time for all school administrators and teachers with the return of students just around the corner. That morning, my father was up early and went to the end of the driveway to grab the stack of papers and bring back to the house.
When I got up to “go to work” my father met me by the door and showed me the headline of the day. I don’t think I was done reading when tears came running down my face … I was out of a job. My dad gave me a hug, told me everything was going to be okay and, with a heavy heart, I loaded up the bags and got on my bike to deliver the news to people on my route.
What happened next is what has stayed with me for 33 years. That morning, my dad got out his bike and rode by my side for the entire route. He didn’t say a word, but he was present and to quote my friend Jason Simon, he gave me the “gift of his full attention.” He didn’t have to do that and I’m pretty sure he missed a meeting or two because of it.
I’m not sure I really appreciated how meaningful and important it was to me to have him by my side that morning. Thirty-three years later, I do …
Being fully present to someone is the greatest gift we can give them. I’m a work in progress but I’m thankful for the example my father set for me that faithful morning.
Is there someone in your life right now that could really use the gift of your full attention? If the answer is yes, follow my father’s lead from 33 years ago and grab your “proverbial bike” and ride alongside them. Trust me, it will make a difference …
Be well and make it great day!