Recently, I came across an article on my LinkedIn feed that mentioned a book titled “Seeing Others: How Recognition Works and How It Can Heal a Divided World” by Dr. Michele Lamont. Dr. Lamont discusses the broader issue of race, but I have also observed this concept from my own vantage point. Across industries and individual roles, we often don’t take the time to truly see and understand each other.
Early in my career, I had the opportunity to attend a training class in Chicago. I was so excited! The first day of class went great. I sat at a table with five other people from different parts of the country, and we talked, laughed, and learned a lot. However, that evening, I received a call that my grandma had died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Day two, it took everything in me to keep from crying in class. The very talkative, cheery, person from day one had been replaced. I sat quietly at the table. Finally, one of the guys at the table took me aside to find out what was wrong. He visibly relaxed when I explained what had happened. The folks around the table were concerned about my sanity until they understood. Yes, I was off. I just lost someone I loved.
I share this story as a reminder. You never know what the person across from you or beside you is going through.
Last week, a few of us brainstormed terms that encapsulated a successful tradesperson – hard-working, creative, conscientious, reliable, talented, detail-oriented. As we looked over the list, someone pointed out they’re the same qualities that make people successful in other roles – management, office workers, chefs, painters, electricians, stylists. We aren’t so different.
This is one of the reasons I created Real Work. The platform aims to connect people, highlighting our shared qualities while appreciating our differences. I recognize that I may not be doing justice to Dr. Lamont’s work, but I firmly believe in her message. We would all benefit from taking a moment to truly see the people around us, having the courage to ask when someone seems off. As I mentioned earlier, we are more alike than we realize.