I saw a familiar face while driving my kids to camp this morning. A man was walking his dog and as I drove past him I thought, “That looks like Dan!”
This made me smile because the mental image of Dan breathing a frustrated sigh through his walrus-sized mustache immediately popped into my head. It was something he did often because Dan worked in radio, where he was surrounded by people who needed commercials produced by him RIGHT NOW, if not YESTERDAY. Dan was the one who taught me how to make commercials, but I was often stymied and needed his help. He never said NO when I asked for assistance, but the whiskers of his upper lip would flutter as he blew out a frustrated breath.
That’s why I was surprised to get an email from Dan not long after I was fired from that job. I’d gotten numerous Chin Up messages from friends, but Dan’s was special because it was so unexpected. He said how sorry he was about what had happened but he went on to say how much he appreciated my work ethic and attitude. It did wonders for my self-esteem because I honestly felt pretty worthless at the time.
Dan also talked about how frustrated he had become with the business of radio. He even mentioned a friend who had just passed away and how it had him wondering if the job was worth the stress anymore.
That note was a personal, thoughtful message from someone I respected, which is why I still have it today.
I know that wasn’t Dan out walking his dogs this morning because he died not long after writing that email. He left this world long before starting the retirement he was considering, which is why his words have become even more important to me.
Dan’s message taught me two important things.
First, when you have a kind thought about someone SAY IT OUT-LOUD. We say what’s on our minds all the time but for some reason, we’re still guarded about giving REAL compliments, like YOU WORK HARD or YOU ARE A JOY TO BE AROUND. It’s funny that we’ll tell a complete stranger to GO TO HELL on social media, but we still stop ourselves from saying something kind.
SAY IT OUT-LOUD because you never know when your words will be the ones that make the difference. You will also never be able to measure the impact they’ll have one day when you’re gone.
Dan also taught me to listen long and hard to the little voice that asks “Is it really worth it?” Because sometimes IT ISN’T and you might not have much time left to fix it.