I woke up yesterday with a terrible headache…so bad it would be more accurate to say that the headache woke me up several times. But it was a big day for my daughter. She had been working with a committee all year to organize the volunteers for a large autism society fundraiser, and the event was yesterday. It was important to her that we were there. I took some medication, ate breakfast, rested for a bit, then got up and got ready.
When we left the event, I had a beautiful email waiting from a friend and colleague. She has recently suffered a loss, and she was thanking some people for being there to offer support.
The morning was a powerful reminder of something I learned long ago and was just discussing with a friend. At times the most important thing we do is show up.
Gallup research explains that engagement improves when someone at work “seems to care about me as a person”. Our lives are important. Our celebrations, our losses, and our big moments matter. When the people with whom we work ask about our children and grandchildren, wish us good luck on the graduation party we are hosting, or offer a hug after a hard loss, we connect. It increases that sense of belonging.
Attending the visitation or funeral of a loved one is a concrete example of showing up.
Attending someone’s retirement reception is another.
Pay attention to what people share. The big events are not usually a secret. Ask people what they are doing over the weekend. And really listen. When someone extends an invitation, go.
I have a good friend at work who has made these events a priority. She speaks beautifully of the impact others made on her when she lost her father. Not only does she show up, she reaches out and invites me along. I have learned so much from what she has modeled.
Now, I would never suggest that you attend events when you are sick, and I am not promoting the guilt that comes with having to miss one of these events because your schedule does not permit it. Real life requires balance. There are things we miss because one person can only be one place at a time. There are things we miss because sometimes no matter how hard you try, you cannot fit one more thing into your day. And of course there are things we miss because the healthier option (either physically or mentally) is to rest.
I am simply suggesting that there times when what people need most is for us to just show up!