A friend works in an intense job that has always been stressful. Recently his work load doubled and he has been feeling desperate. One of his tasks was to play a major role in the organization of a government summit. The summit went well. Afterwards a high ranking person thanked all the contributors except my friend.
My friend reported, “For a second, I thought: oh, he’s going to say my name! Someone important is going to recognize my efforts in public! But, he did not. Others with whom I worked so hard got shout-outs, but no one said my name.”
A co-worker immediately called and explained that my friend’s name was on the list, the speaker accidently skipped over it. Rationally, this should have solved the problem. It did not. Here is what happened instead.
“I didn’t want to go back to work. I had put so much time into the summit that I had fallen behind in other things. As I started to drop balls and make mistakes, I revived the slight in my mind. I started to see flaws in the team of people with whom I bonded over the summit. I invented a narrative in which no one saw my hard work and no one appreciated me. I was headed in a dark direction.”
I think the above paragraph is invaluable. First, it is a rare example of someone telling the truth about their feelings when slighted in an organization. Second, it demonstrates the very serious negative consequences that can emerge when we do not share appreciation. If we are tempted to judge the speaker and define him as a weakling, we might first ask if we have not had similar feelings but lacked the courage to state them.
My friend’s inner strength is demonstrated in what happened next. Being aware of where he was headed, he did a most unconventional thing. Here is his report.
“I decided to do something different. Instead of wishing other people had remembered me, I wrote notes to people who had also worked hard on the summit. I thanked them sincerely in writing. One coworker wrote back that he teared up when he read my note. I decided that that is what I want to do. I want to be one who is always grateful and injecting love into the organization.”
My friend was headed to a dark place. Instead of continuing the natural journey, he choose to emotionally self-regulate. He followed his conscience and engaged in service. The reward was significant. Operating at a higher level, he determined he wanted to one who always injected love into the organization. My friend just committed to be a transformational leader.
- What happens when they are not appreciated?
- What was remarkable about this case? What could you do differently in the future?
- How many people around you are committed to always inject love into the organization? How might you increase the number?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?