No words can adequately describe the level of sadness and horror I, like so many others, feel for people and families across the Mid-Atlantic states — particularly New Jersey and New York — who experienced such loss this week when Hurricane Sandy blew into their lives. Every news report, every picture, and every person interviewed continues to bring the realities of this enormous tragedy into focus.
Earlier this week when President Obama met Governor Christie to tour the ravaged areas of his state, something really big happened. Two people from different backgrounds, with different viewpoints and perspectives, and striving for different goals came together and worked as one. They viewed what was happening through one lens…through one heart. Watching them praise the other for their leadership was truly something to see. It showed us how people can indeed focus on a goal without the noise that often accompanies it.
As I watched the news reports of the hours they spent together, I realized that this was a great lesson about life. And in my wheelhouse, “life” revolves around business, working parents, and children. It involves companies and their employees, parents and children’s schools. In both of these scenarios, you often find individuals with very different ways of looking at the world. Many with very different needs and expectations as well as paths to achieving what, in some situations, could be regarded as similar goals.
I often find that employers fail to recognize that their greatest asset — not on paper or in an annual report but in practice — is their people. People with complex lives, juggling work/life issues, and facing challenges that often leave them feeling overwhelmed. I also find that schools often fail to recognize that a child’s parents are the most critical players in any education matter. Teachers have the instructional expertise, which is one perspective, yet parents have a far more holistic perspective — knowing their child best.
From meetings where employee evaluations are conducted to IEP meetings where a child’s educational goals are discussed, people working on different sides of the table (or from different perspectives on a common issue) can learn from what Barack Obama and Chris Christie did this week…they more than simply reached across the aisle … they forgot that an aisle even existed. And, just as importantly, it showed us that those who may once be regarded as an archenemy — or someone who simply does not see things as we do — could well turn out to be the ally needed to move mountains.