Yesterday, I attended the service of a friend, Lisa Marie Meloni, who died last week. Lisa was an only child, never been married, and lost a two-year fight to cancer. Her parents had moved to take care of her. Lisa was truly one of the nicest people I’d ever met, and I can’t seem to recall any time that there was not a very contagious smile on her.
Her father, probably in his late 70s, had a particularly difficult time yesterday and understandably so. He was crying profusely and it broke everyone’s heart. It reminded me that burying one’s child remains one of life’s truly undesirable experiences. As is common in these situations, during grieving, many questions—some of them very important ones—are asked of oneself.
I thought about what the lesson in this experience might be for us, the living. The obvious ones came to mind—enjoy every moment, love/kiss/hug the ones you love everyday, tomorrow is promised to no one, avoid regrets, think of other loved ones passed away, look at your bucket list – we’ve all felt and thought these powerful reminders during the grieving process. Invariably, grief gives way to life’s other experiences and we forget the lessons again.
As I drove back home after the service, I thought about what the lessons of grieving might be to one’s work life. And only one came to mind: taking more risks at work. Work implicitly demands conformity to the past, to politics, to processes, to the same people. The opportunities that might warrant a creative outburst are few and far between. An adventure beyond the confines of our well-documented job description is indeed quite rare. So this week, I say go have an adventure at work. Whether it’s brainstorming ten ways to improve everyone’s lives at work and sending that list to your CEO or having lunch with someone in another department you otherwise would never interact with or going online and researching your competition’s strengths and comparing them to yours… go wander. You just might surprise yourself.