By Kirk McCarley
Retirement ceremonies for public employees often follow a common script. For one they are typically funded through a “collection” from co-workers, considerate of citizen perception of appropriate fiscal use. Consequently condiments will include fruit and relish trays, punch, sheet cake and some de minimis financial gifts and gift cards. Testimonials are shared. The recipient utters a few words of appreciation, maybe fights through a few tears, and since the gatherings tend towards the end of the day on a Friday, everyone goes home.
The events are nice: certainly nothing elegant.
Years ago Dalton retired from municipal service. He had spent a career working outdoors, often in harsh conditions as a journeyman something or other. His occupational badge was identified by a bronzed and wrinkled complexion, callused hands. When the moment came for Dalton’s remarks he detoured from the expected. Sure, he recognized and thanked his family, elected officials, fellow employees, and even a supportive citizenry. But then he added as best I can remember: “I’ve met a lot of people. Some are old, haggard, argumentative, a few even combative. What I try to remember in those encounters is that person was born into this world as a baby: helpless, dependent, innocent. At their root each of us is still that infant. That helps when I negotiate with that individual as an adult.”
Years later Dalton’s words still resonate. Like me, I’m sure that you have been around those you find disagreeable. Everyone comes from a variety of circumstances. Some were born into a stable environment, others into turbulence, and many into various points in between. Regardless of delivery, we were adored by someone at inception: a mother, a father, siblings, mid-wives, nurses; cherished in our helplessness. Between that time and today life happened with its highs and lows, achievements and failures, fortunes and misfortunes. Our countenance and carriage tell our story from then to now.
Times are contentious. When the potential for disagreeable moments occur and your patience is tested, resolve to change your perspective. That indifferent clerk may be having a bad day. Be your best self; tell her manager the clerk could use some encouragement.
The Police Officer who wrote you up for doing 50 in a 35 is doing her job. Though her assignment is to enforce the law, if she is slightly discourteous refrain from agitation. Instead, many departments have a citizens review panel who uphold officers to professional standards that are respectful to the public they protect. Contact them. Those of us who frequently fly the friendly skies can spin lengthy tales of air travel horror. Remember, the gate agent is not to blame for equipment mechanical problems. The reservations desk associate does not schedule the number of outgoing flights to Atlanta. The baggage handler who loads and unloads thousands of bags daily, in a hurry between tight connections might see a tag as SAN instead of SAT designating your luggage to San Diego rather than San Antonio. A few days ago I was helping a corporate client develop a “pitch” for his job search campaign. After reviewing my first draft statement he commented, “you make me read better than I really am.” For me as a coach that was a breakthrough moment. Isn’t that something we each aspire for, encouraging someone else? Although we are already a few days into 2019, it’s not too late to set aim on a resolution. How about being an agent of positivity, building others up even when it’s not your first inclination, remembering how we each came into the world.
A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kirk McCarley is a Certified Professional Coach as well as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM-CP Certified. He also is a Production Assistant for both college football and basketball for ESPN and leads group cycling classes as a Certified Spinning instructor. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, theseedsowercoach.com, or call 314-677-8779.