Father Time is a Gentle Parent

Leslie Zolbe

I got this on FaceBook Messenger a couple months ago.

Hello. My name is Ashley (not real name). I hope this message brings you a smile…

Summer before 6th grade my parents got divorced and I was forced to switch schools. I was not happy, but my mom told me Alki would have friends for me. I wasn’t buying it one bit.

My very first friend was Leslie. she was kind, had a sweet smile that I’ve never forgotten, and an absolute heart of gold.

I know this is random, but I think of leslie a lot. She was the first great loss I ever experienced in my life. Your daughter showed me kindness in a school of snobby kids who didn’t like me cause my clothes weren’t cool. She showed me how to laugh even when I was afraid to be laughed at. She was such a good person even in 6th grade.  

Many years have passed and I think of her on a very regular basis.

I’m sure this is strange, but I had to reach out… in today’s day and age I feel like nothing is too late to be said.

Because of your daughter I learned to stand up for people, to try to do the right thing. Leslie, even at the age of 11 was an inspiration.  And I just wanted you to know that.  I thank you for your daughter and her friendship 😊

I know, as a mom now I would be proud if my daughter had an effect on people. Leslie sure was one of those people who leave a lasting impression.

I’ve gotten two other similar notes over the years. One from a mom whose daughter lacked the cool quotient as she progressed up into middle school.  She’d been with Leslie since first grade. Mom related to me how Leslie worked to include her daughter; Leslie never “abandoned” her daughter.

My daughter’s actions had lasting effects.

I love to look for examples of Newton’s Third Law of Motion in folks’ behavior. Simplistically, any action creates a reaction. Equal in intensity. Important to remember-the intensity of a reaction is directly proportional.

How you treat people, whether colleagues or clients or vendors, affects much.

How would you respond to questions such as:

  1. Do you try hard at work?
  2. Are you better at what you do than most others?
  3. Do you have a great attitude? Not just better than everyone else’s, but a great one?
  4. Do you encourage others?

My thoughts on these four questions;

  1. If you hired someone to come to your house and paid that person an hourly rate to paint the place, would it bug you if they spent part of the time surfing the web or making personal calls? It would bug me. Hard work, on the other hand, is motivating in a colleague. Watching someone bust his kiester is always impressive. And it can motivate.
  2. You cannot be a great teammate if you do not excel at your responsibility. Great teammates don’t have to be stars, but they do need first and foremost to do their part.
  3. Attitude is about sharing the team goal- running toward the team goal as much or more than the connotation of always being upbeat. Anyone can pipe up “I’m great!” to the proffered “how are you?”. That is a simplistic personification of attitude. A great attitude at work an/or on a team is chasing the ring.
  4. Tell a colleague “you can do it”. Plenty of folks don’t understand how fast they can run. Exhibiting belief in others is huge. Great coaches and great teammates demonstrate that.

I honestly believe I could list 25 past colleagues who now have nice management titles who would not have traveled that path to professional success if I hadn’t in some fashion insisted they aim higher. As I advocated for signing up for the 401k I would concurrently ask about more school; ask if they were learning what their manager did and why; if they were learning how our department functions in total and how their job affected other departments, and probed about what they felt they did well. I like to believe I could list 25 past colleagues who’ve met professional success that they considered beyond their reach. Because I encouraged them. They responded. They did the heavy lifting.

I think I hurt my rotator cuff as I whacked myself on the back.

Among other things I learned from my daughter is that our time on this rock is limited. When you are gone, all that is left of you is your impact. I think that argues for trying hard, for being good at what you do, for having a team attitude, and for encouraging others. Then father time becomes that gentle parent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *