Starting a third job, as a secretary, certainly pushed me to my limits the past couple weeks. On the second day, my boss came in to tell me something. I looked at him and quietly said, “I don’t think I can do this, it’s just too much.” After that I mumbled something about trying to stay at least until school started, but I was completely overwhelmed.
In the nicest tone, here’s how my boss, Semu, replied, “No, we need you. You can do this. This job can be overwhelming. What’s too much right now?” I pointed to the piles of papers on my desk and filing cabinets. Again, in the nicest tone he said, “No, don’t think about all that. Focus on what’s most important, just one thing.”
I looked at him and said, “Textbooks.”
“Yes, focus just on the textbooks. All the rest of this can wait.”
I reflected on how I write about the power of focus in my books, but I forget sometimes to practice it!
A short while later I went to Semu’s office to ask him something. Again, in such a calm tone he said, “You know, mindfulness is becoming really popular.”
I laughed and said, “That’s what my books are about.”
Semu continued, “It’s really important to take a break sometimes. Go for a walk – breathe.” My boss was telling me it was okay for me to stop working and reconnect.
This experience will stay with me my entire life. Semu listening to me, telling me they needed me, reassuring me that I could do the job, and admitting the job can be overwhelming at times was validating. He understood how I felt, he empathized with me, valued me, and he accepted me where I was; what a connecting moment for me.
Besides realizing I have a wonderful boss, I have also become aware of how very powerful our interactions are. This man, who I hardly knew, touched my life in a profound way by just being who he is.
We bring to our jobs not just our skills, but who we are at the core of our being.
Being a secretary at 60 can cause me to feel a bit like I’m not moving forward; I was a secretary at 20! Just as money and possessions don’t define us, our titles don’t either.
One of the teachers I work with told me when she heard I was returning to the school she felt like she had won the lottery. Another teacher introduced me to a new teacher and said, “Lili isn’t just a great worker, she has such a good heart, too.”
I am not my title, I’m me – that’s who I bring to work – my whole self. Just as my boss touched my life with who he is, I, too, can positively affect others by who I am.
We all have the powerful ability to touch each other’s lives. I want to focus on that truth as I go about my busy days working three jobs.