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On Monday, I posted this piece about coming back into the world bit by bit. Minutes later, one of my 30-something friends/former employees called to say she’d read that blog, loved feeling my “voice” in it, and realized how much she would miss my voice when I was gone. You know. Gone, gone. There were tears on both ends of the call. A touching, sad moment imbued with an awareness of celebrating our loving relationship now.
The call came, ironically, in the middle of a live-streamed yoga class. Right after the call, I thought about all the people in my life who are older influencers to me. I reflected on all the teaching and loving I’d received from people in my life.
Then I joined a weekly senior leadership team call with one of my company coaching clients, G2. I lead a “check-in” at the start of these calls, and my objective is to help people get even more present and connected through this exercise. I often think about what the check-in should be during that yoga class, which directly precedes this meeting.
I asked the attendees to think about someone in their life who is older than they are and who has been influential in their lives. I asked them to choose someone they imagine they’ll miss when they are gone. Someone outside of their family. I asked them to let us know who that person is and how that person has affected them.
The answers were beautiful and emotional. In these answers, we all learned something quite foundational about each other. I also realized as I listened that there was so much projection in these answers: the value we receive from an influential relationship is so often the value we offer in the world. Or the admirable qualities of someone who has influenced us are often the qualities we ourselves have.
My answer was my former sister-in-law and brother-in-law Annie and Mark. When my marriage ended 25 years ago, I remember the emotional call to them, desperately pleading with them to please allow me to stay involved in their lives and the lives of their children. I remember Annie saying that I could get divorced from her wonderful brother without divorcing her family. I remember my relief. These two have always been an example to me of what “family” and partnership mean.
This entire check-in exercise took 10 minutes with 10 people. Try it.
In the meantime, take two minutes and think about this for yourself. Always share any thoughts on Twitter.