A Season for Reflection

As a parent of young children the holidays are typically a festive affair. Certainly stressful in a first world kind of way, but joyful none the less. However this Christmas season I couldn’t help but be a little reserved in my mood because a family in our tight knit community had a terminally ill child and I was bracing myself for the worst. In the silent moments late at night when I check in with my soul while folding little socks or cleaning up Cheerios off the kitchen floor I would think about this family. I would think about what they were doing in the hospital, what was going on in their minds during a quiet moment like the one I was having. I would mourn for them and pray for peace. Pray for miracles.
Maddie Shumaker died last Thursday surrounded by love and family. My heart is broken wide open. Even though I am not particularly close to the Shumaker family I am grieving the loss of a special eight year old girl, and a sparkling light lost too soon.
Mourning has the effect of helping one distill down to the basic elements of life and clearly define what is important. This is easy in our personal lives. With no hesitation all that matters is our family, friends and health.
When I looked at my work life it became apparent that all that mattered was how the individuals that make up our company treat others. I was queued up by the rawness of my emotions to not gloss over the small interactions and really observe how our team relates to the world every day.
What I found gave me faith in humanity and tremendous pride. I already knew that we had a great team, but through this lens their depth and compassion for others became more vivid. Below is the speech which I gave at the Christmas party on how the team has changed my life and helped me to be a better person.
What it comes down to is that in a world where one has little control over the big events we have to focus on the one thing which is under our control and that is treating people kindly. Those small interactions add up and are our contribution to the world. Merry Christmas everyone and happy New Year.

This year has been one of soul searching for me. Amid the national stories of violence and the seemingly intractable problems abroad I have come to a conclusion. My conclusion is that the only thing that we really have control over, and that really matters is how we treat our fellow human beings. 

You all do such a good job at being good people and making the world a better place. I just wanted to take a second delineate the ways you all inspire me to be a better person through your strengths and gifts.
Wilfred. Being greeted by you in the morning is a privileged. I am not being gratuitous when I say that, because your cheerfulness is contagious and brings me joy that improves the remainder of my day. You remind me that kindness doesn’t cost a dime, but improves the world around us. 
Tom. You have a teacher’s heart. You inspire me to teach my children in a patient, quiet way and inspire me to be a better parent.
This week I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing Christina and Armando treat people with mental disabilities with respect and dignity which was touching. It made me proud of the work we do. We provide housing to people from all walks of life and we treat ALL people in a kind, generous manner.
Watching Ed and Trig work their tails off at Legacy with precision and excellence has been a reminder that a job worth doing is worth doing well. We have truly talented craftsman here who take pride in their work and that is a service to others. You guys reminding me that skill and attention to detail matter. 
I had the pleasure of watching Steven make Christina lunch and bring it to her when she was having an especially busy day. Acts of service to one another matter and inspire me to do more of it myself. I have been the recipient of such kindness when I was having an especially epic bad day where I just couldn’t take it anymore. Who had my back? Christina, Britney and Doug. They all covered for me, and took time out of their busy schedules to make sure I was doing okay.
Sometimes its difficult to see how the work we do matters when we are swamped in emails, working on a small project or we’re spent from dealing with difficult people. But we have to remember that we have an important mission. We provide safe and quality housing which is a fundamental human need. Not only do you all do your part in that greater mission, but you do so with integrity. And you do it while treating people well. In the end, when you take away the noise and the distraction- that is all that matters. I am grateful to call you all, who do this so well, friends and colleagues. You are my inspiration to be better everyday. Thank you for being wonderful and happy holidays!

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