Leadership commitment number eight says, I acknowledge who my people are, I do not take them for granted. I think that everyone of us can relate to this commitment and admit that at times we have taken the most important people in our lives for granted.
The best way for me to address this commitment is to provide a personal story. When I was twenty years old my sister Rael was getting married and asked me to give the toast to the bride. I felt honored to do this for her but also challenged about what to say. My sister and I were very close and we had especially depended on one another after my dad died when we were teenagers.
Rael was getting married to a man who lived in Sweden and I knew that we would have little opportunity to see one another over the next number of years. As I lay in bed the night before her wedding fretting about what to say, the phrase love is blind popped into my mind. What came to me about this phrase is that I did not know how much I loved my sister until I knew that she was not going to be close by anymore. We were only a year and four months apart and good friends throughout our childhoods.
Over the next few years Rael and I got caught up in our separate lives and communicated very sporadically. I would see her about every three to five years but our visits were often rushed and provided little time to really share our lives. This went on for thirty years until her husband died of cancer and I ended up going to Estonia to see her for a couple of weeks. Those two weeks became the most meaningful days we spent together over those thirty years and we both commented about how we regretted not making more of an effort to communicate and get together. We both talked at length about how important family was to us and how fortunate we had been to grow up with the parents and siblings we had.
I saw Rael one more time a couple years later when she came to visit in the Okanagan with my mom. Once again we talked very openly about our separate journeys and how we would focus more on our relationship in the years to come. She committed to coming back in a few months to attend one of my programs. She talked about taking my work back to Estonia with her. A few months later she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and passed away in a few weeks.
As I write this, I am once again overcome with a sense of sadness and regret. Love truly is blind. It is so easy to take for granted that the people you care about will always be there even if they live far away. I trick myself into thinking that my sister is not really gone, that she is just on the other side of the world like she has always been, and in a few months we will get together again.
This story is a good reminder to me to not take for granted the people I love and those who make a significant contribution to my life. I do not know how much time I have to travel this journey and the people I do it with are such an important part of my experiences. I have a wonderful partner in Christine, four children who love me and three grandchildren who actually like to hang out with me. I also have so many people who have joined me in the Inside Out adventure who have made such a contribution in my life. You have encouraged me and held me accountable to this calling.
I want to say, I do not take you for granted.
I encourage you to reach out to those people who are important to you and acknowledge them. Let them know that you do not take them for granted.