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When Work Gets Personal

This week’s Leadership Thursday is a very special one to me, as it represents growth on two people’s part. As I go around the nation talking to various groups about business, leadership, etc, I usually talk about “caring for your people” at some point in any of my talks. And as I consult feed-yards and other businesses, I routinely bring this same subject up in terms of handling personnel issues. The fact is, every single person at work is a real live human being with a heart, soul, and mind, and we all have our outside work troubles and daily distractions. Some have more than others due to personal choices and constant drama in their lives, and others have outside distractions totally out of their control. And 7 times out of 10, when someone is struggling at work, it is due to outside distractions, such as spousal, kid, family, or financial troubles. Those are the top 4 distractions. The other top distraction is the cell phone, of which is a whole different topic! But all these distractions are very real, every single day, for all people. And we have to work to help them through those distractions.

The fine lady above is a lady I love dearly that has worked for our AMC Family for quite some time now, and I know no other person that has had the almost insurmountable, out of her control, distractions in my time of working with this superwomen hero! For her, it began with a house fire that basically destroyed their home. Followed by her husband nearly dying from a secondary lung infection from the house fire. And then there was this day she pulled my aside and said, “Nels, I need to tell you something. I have breast cancer.” Mind you, all of these things she has beaten! Then there was this day she said, “Nels, I need to tell you something. My husband has lung cancer.” They beat that! Then there was this day, her husband, the love of her life, her lifelong partner passed away.

So… we rode all these waves with JoJo, but this wave, this was a big wave, as anyone who knows who has lost a spouse or a parent, especially if too young. These waves can sometimes “end the ballgame” for some people’s soul, life, and passion. In the midst of all this, JoJo, as you can imagine, had some struggles at work. The world was trying to crash around her, crush her to the ground, and her spirit was crushed. So one day, I sat down with JoJo, and I looked at her and said, “JoJo, we love you, how can we help you? What is wrong that we can help with. You know we love you deeply and we just want to help you.”

I won’t finish that story, as this is the 10 second version of a real life story taking place of several years, but the main goal of this conversation, is if someone is struggling at work or isn’t performing to the standards of the culture, we have to take the time as leaders, to dig

deeper into the hearts and souls of these people to better understand “life in their shoes”. If we develop a deeper understanding of life in their shoes, we are much better equipped to help them help themselves. We all need help and what you don’t know, is what you don’t know. We all must have an appetite to ask questions, rather than place blame. Your greatest limitations are what you don’t know.

As for JoJo, she did not let her troubles, her life’s waves, define her. She chose to define her troubles, get stronger, and move forward, placing one foot in front of the other each day, and not let her troubles define her. Given her daunting circumstances, she had to have unusual courage to move forward. She had to look past her troubles with titanic courage, and see the opportunities presented. Now that my friends, is an awesome people! An inner greatness came to the surface and expressed itself, like it was intended to be expressed! And we get to see her express her inner greatness every single day!! And we love it, as do many of our awesome, caring customers!! We All Love You JoJo!! Happy Leadership Thursday!!

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