The Ripple Effect
We never know how our thoughts and behavior will impact others. I imagine we all want to have a positive effect on others, but when we are in the midst of life and making quick decisions, we may not be thinking of impact. But should we?
I remember in 2013, I experienced loss. What I didn’t know is that the choices I made at that time would have a lasting impact on others. Let me explain. In January 2013, I was at my annual sales meeting. It was business as usual: Who will win the awards, who will be featured as an example to follow in future years and so on. The night before the annual awards banquet, I had to fly out to lead a big meeting in Kota Kinabalu. I will never forget: I had just finished part one of the meeting in Kota Kinabalu and was about to lead the global dealer meeting. During breakfast, a product manager James said to me that he was struggling to believe Brian was gone. “I said what are you talking about?” He said Brian, with whom we had spent time the previous week, died. Brian had been my friend and colleague for 10 years. I couldn’t believe I had just seen him the week before in good health. Now he was dead. Shortly thereafter, I learned he had taken his life in a hotel room. He had barely missed being sales manager of the year for the 4th year in a row. Had he taken it that hard? One never knows the demons that live in a person’s mind, but what we do know is that he couldn’t take it anymore.
I respected Brian, and more than that I adored his sense of humor and love of life. I didn’t want his children to have any type of shame around their father’s suicide. I let Brian’s leader, Steve know I would be gathering photos from everyone and put an album together to send to the family. That way his children would be able to see their dad the way we saw him, in a beautiful light. I spearheaded the project and asked my assistant Christina to collect the photos and put them in a book, with Steve’s blessing. Shortly thereafter, my father died unexpectedly. I left to be with my family and find closure on my Father’s life. Christina had asked me when she could, if she should get signatures from his region or just complete and send. My gut said just send it….that was all I could do.
Immediately upon return we had a sales and marketing manager meeting. Before leaving for the meeting, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Steve and his team with condolences for my father’s death. I saw him later that morning and couldn’t help shedding a few tears of gratitude for his thoughtfulness. The next morning he said to me, “Kirsten, I think I am going to make you cry again.” I thought, really how could he top that??
He proceeded to tell me what happened. He said every year, no matter where Brian was, he would always have an anniversary gift for his wife arrive at the house. This being the first year Brian wouldn’t be alive for their anniversary, she thought it would be a lonely day. But she had a knock on the door the morning of and there in a gift package was the memory book of photos that we had collected. It was by coincidence that it arrived on the day of their anniversary. (Or was it?) Brian’s wife told Steve that Brian had promised and never failed, to provide a gift each year to celebrate their life together.
You may not know how the choices you make will impact others, but I promise you every choice made causes a ripple effect into the world. We are all connected.