It was a sunny Monday afternoon. Summer showed a last glimpse of itself in Copenhagen, and we were all set for our first gathering on “Happiness at work” – or as we say in Denmark; “Arbejdsglæde”.
I glimpsed the future of work last week on a live stream. And it was human.
Hanna sat cross legged in her hospital room surrounded by her mom, a handful of friends, and “her team” that included her OT therapist, music therapist, and child life specialist. Upbeat music played in the background as 18-year-old Hanna connected with her friend Malissa in Colorado using FaceTime. They were ready. It was time.
This week we lost people who we mostly knew through their work and the impact they had on our lives. Kate Spade’s work clothed us beautifully and gave us self-expression, color, and design in the form of useful objects we enjoyed both practically and aesthetically. Anthony Bourdain’s work inspired us to discover the world and ourselves by meeting people in their neighborhoods, tribes, and homes exploring rituals, traditions, and creativity of food and much more.
Every day in many of our organizations and teams, something besides people is considered most important. And when any of those other things take center stage, the consequences are usually not so good for people.
Hayley’s life had not been easy. Difficult pregnancies, a child with cancer, and her sister’s death had caused people in her life including work to gather around to support her in all kinds of ways. So when I asked her to tell me a story about a time when she felt loved at work, she had many examples.
But the story she told me in my research was, by comparison, silly and minor in her estimation. Still, it is the one she chose to share and speaks to the lasting positive impact a leader can have and the unexpected goodness that can come back to that leader in return.
We go to work each day to earn a living so we can make a life for ourselves and our loved ones. But we don’t sign up to be humiliated, to be ignored, to be betrayed. We sign up for the workforce at 18 or maybe 21 to contribute, to do something we enjoy, or at least don’t mind, to make a difference in some way.
Some moments we never forget because in those moments something new begins. I remember when I asked my agency director, Chris Liu, "What is the most important job of a leader?" His answer was the beginning.