Lessons in Leadership Courage 1
Our production supervisor sacrificed his personal relationships for work. He died at work. We replaced him in ten business days.
I was working as the Manager of Manufacturing Engineering. My boss was the Director of Production. We found one of our Supervisors dead on the toilet in the men’s room.
The reason this was so disturbing was that Joe was a workaholic. He married four times. He was divorced four times. Joe freely admitted that one of the major issues in all of his marriages was his enthusiasm for his job. Joe was at work seven days a week, ten hours a day, every day.
We were a very busy manufacturing facility. We made a war-related product in the middle of a war. Demand was high. We ran lean. We could not make enough product running 2.5 shifts every day.
My boss liked to brag that Joe could do the work of two people and Joe did. He was always there. I don’t believe I ever came to work and he was not there. I don’t believe he ever went home before me. I don’t recall him taking a vacation. He missed weddings, graduations and time with his kids and family because of work.
I was an efficient, focused manager, but there were leftover tasks on my list when I went home each day. I was up early, went to bed late. By prioritizing and accomplishing all I could, I was not overwhelmed but neither could I accomplish every single task in the allocated timeframe.
If I was going to be late, I always informed whomever the taskmaster was of my proposed timeline. Based on their reaction, I would juggle my work as needed. I had a husband and children I enjoyed. I intended to be with them.
I attended Joe’s wake and funeral The parlor was empty. Two or three people were loitering around. The man had few friends or family at his funeral. I was the only person from our company to attend.
Joe’s desk was emptied one day after he died. His urgent work was covered by others. We replaced him in ten business days.
We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have… and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes. — — Charles R. Swindon
The Lesson Learned
Joe’s death taught me to care more about things outside of work than inside of work. When I work, I give it my all, thinking of as many productivity activities as I can. I did everything I knew how to using every tool in my work toolbox to make the world better for our company.
But…when it was time to take care of my families needs, I went home. My attitude was a clique. Don’t live to work; work to live. I made myself remember why I was working so hard.
I worked long hours, but I was present at every important family activity.
I left work in the middle of my long day to support those I loved. And so should you.
Don’t fall for the current hype about the love of work and give up your life for your company. Your family needs you to show them why you work. You work for them. Be there for them.
If you die, someone else will do your work. Your role in your family can only be filled by you. Fulfill it. Enjoy your life.
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