Our dear colleague, Lisa Spear, lost her brother-in-law last week.  Brian was a young family man, killed by a young driver while walking in a crosswalk.  The loss was sudden, tragic and very hard to swallow.  As a team, we are praying for Brian’s family to heal and praying to hear the faithful message that something so sad might have for us.

For me, the message I keep hearing is, “life is short, spend it wisely.”  I’m guilty of loving and living my work, sometimes acting victim to my work schedule, as discussed by my eloquent colleague, Michelle Baca in her post last week.  And sometimes, I focus more on the things I need to do, the deliverables I need to produce, and the activities I need to check off my list than I do on the quality of the human interactions I’m engaging in as I do them.

We can all get into a transactional mode, moving through our day’s appointments, meeting our obligations and then ending the day by evaluating what’s done and left undone for tomorrow.  As I write about it, it all sounds so mundane – because it can be – unless you appreciate the spark that gives our work and our time here on earth real meaning – THE PEOPLE!

I love my work because I love my colleagues, my clients and my co-collaborators.  I enjoy being with them as we struggle with difficult challenges, engage in sensitive conversations, dream about what’s possible and laugh along the way, too.  I get real joy out of helping someone overcome a less-than-leader-like habit or behavior that has been holding them back or master a new skill or behavior that will propel them forward.  I love seeing people regain inspiration and motivation and when they do, I regain it, too.

The real trouble is that I don’t realize how much fun I’ve had, or how much joy I’ve experienced or how accomplished I feel until I look back – because in the moment, I’m often too focused on “getting it done” or “making it happen” to allow these feelings of appreciation, joy and love to sink in.  Even worse – I don’t tell these great people how enriched I feel when I’m with them or how much I appreciate them in the moment.  Afterward, I’m on to the next “to do” and less likely to express how much each person’s presence meant to me in that moment, now gone.

As I begin to prepare for this holiday season of evaluation, appreciation, outreach and giving, I want to be more overt in my expression of appreciation for the gifts that each person brings in my life, so I don’t have to wonder if I enjoyed or appreciated it enough when it’s passed.  What about you?  Are you caught up in the transactional race?  How do you slow down and appreciate those you work, play and live with?  Please share your ideas!