If you're like me (and I know I am), you're ready for the new year. 2020 was not easy! While some good things did happen, I’ll still take a refund on the entire year. Of course, that can’t happen so let’s just hope 2021 is a year to remember — for all the right reasons!
This January blog is a bit different than previous entries. For the last few years, my first January post has been “Best Boss Resolutions.” Those actions and behaviors every leader should commit to in order to be, well, that best boss ever!
This year, though, I’m going in a new direction. In fact, the entire year will have a different tone.
So just as the Best Boss blog would launch the upcoming year, so does this one. My focus on people, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, valuing others, civility, and generally making the world a better place all starts with one thing — knowing me.
Often when I speak, I start by asking the audience, “Why should you listen to me?” In fact, why should you listen to anyone? Everyone has an angle, a perspective, a background that developed their thinking. Every speaker, every journalist, author, politician . . . EVERYONE!
Knowing that angle and perspective helps the listener judge and interpret the content. It helps us gauge the truth factor. It gives context to the content. And it allows us to apply — or not apply — their words to our life.
That’s what this blog is all about. I’m going to talk about me. I’m going to let you know who I am and where I’ve come from. I’m doing so with hope that you’ll get to know me, understand me a little, and, ultimately, follow me and engage with me throughout the year.
So who is Darren K. Ford?
Well, I’m just like you. I’m a human being who lives and breathes just like you. We both have basic needs of food, water, air, and shelter. We both have emotions, wants, and desires. We want to connect to others and we both want some fulfillment in life. We’re really very much alike.
Yet I’m completely different than you. In fact, I’m totally unique.
So what’s made me unique? Well, there are sooooooo many inputs throughout my life but this partial list will give you a little insight to Darren K. Ford.
WARNING! For some people, a few items on this list may be triggers to stop reading and never return. PLEASE read the entire list!
More importantly, PLEASE don’t judge me simply because of the experiences in my life.
Most importantly, PLEASE read my next blog which will put these experiences in perspective. And then you can decide whether or not to come back and be part of the conversation.
Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is a small snapshot of my life:
In fact, there is no one else like me on dear ol’ Planet Earth. I’m one in a 7,836,311,154 as of 10:20 a.m., January 2.
And just like I’m unique, so are you! No one else just like you anywhere in the world.
Now it gets tricky.
While we’re totally the same, we’re also totally different. The differences may be big such as gender or religion or politics, or the differences may be small, say dogs or cats.
And if we’re not careful, these differences can cause conflict. These conflicts can grow and grow and grow, to the point where we’re simply not able to get along, as individuals or as a society.
Sadly, that's where we are today. We're not getting along. We can't talk to each other anymore.
How did we get to this point? More importantly, how do we get back to being friends? How can we stop yelling at each other and start caring for each other?
That’s exactly what we’ll explore this year. We’re going to take a deeper dive into our differences and find ways to overcome those differences.
So will you come back? Will you read future blogs, ask questions, and make comments?
Will you join me on this journey of making the world a better place by connecting people through similarities while overlooking, even celebrating, our differences?
And maybe, just maybe, with each blog, comment, and interaction, we’ll make the world just a little brighter, one connection at a time.
Recently I posted a short comment about making the world a better place through action. Of course, it's easy to tell others to take action. But it's just as easy to actually take that action! We have opportunities all around us if we're just willing to be observant.
For example, like many people, I've been working from home the last four or five months. And rather than wearing my normal business attire of a slightly starched button-down shirt and slacks, I've been wearing a polo shirt and gym shorts (admit it -- you're doing the same!).
After four months of working from home, I did have a few shirts that needed laundering so I dropped them off with Song, the woman -- along with her husband -- who has been taking care of my shirts and dry cleaning for years. She calls me "Mr. Ford" and regularly asks, "How is Mrs. Ford?" No need for a ticket because she knows me. I simply drop a pile of shirts on the counter and return several days later to pick them up. And if she sees me pulling up in the car, she has the shirts ready to go before I even walk through the door. It's almost become a game to see if I can sneak up on her!
When I went to pick up my five shirts a few days ago, I noticed Song's store was pretty empty. Upon a little digging, I discovered they are only doing cleaning two days a week. So I'm not the only person working in polos and shorts instead of business shirts and slacks.
Yet Song still keeps her store open every day but Sunday. "I have to be here for my customers." That's just part of her heart. "Yes, business is slow but at least I have a job. Many of our customers are out of work. It's so sad. But we are blessed." She and her husband are two of the nicest, kindest people I know.
So even though I'm still working from home, I'm again wearing that starched button down every day (and yes, I'm still wearing shorts). This way, I can visit Song and her husband regularly. Will it be enough to increase their cleaning operations to three or four days a week? Probably not. But it allows me to give them just a little extra business. More importantly, it allows me to honor Song's hard work over the years. And it brightens my day when I go visit her!
I don't tell this story to earn a gold star from anyone or prove I'm a good person. I'm truly just providing a simple example of how easy it is to help others, how we can make the world just a little bit kinder, one person, one interaction at a time.
Will you join me? How can you make the world a little bit brighter?
NOTE: I MAY LOSE ABOUT HALF OF YOU READERS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CONTINUE READING TO THE END.
. . . because I voted for President Trump. I lie. I’m evil. I’m an SOB. And not only should I die but everyone around me should die also.
The most amazing part? The people calling me an evil SOB and clamoring for my death — they don’t even know me!
While scrolling through Twitter last week, I came across a tweet from a highly regarded HR influencer I follow. She made a simple, not-too-ugly (but not-too-nice either) comment about President Trump. That comment elicited three responses directed at all Trump supporters, including me.
Of course, the other side does it, too. When hanging out on Twitter, it doesn’t take long to see ugly comments and name-calling such as everyone on the Left loves China more than America and “Nancy Pelosi is a traitor.” I seriously doubt the person throwing out that gem knows Speaker Pelosi.
How did we let things get so bad, to the point where we hate everyone on the other end of the political spectrum, even to the point where we want them to contract Coronavirus and die?
I go into the office every day (well, the last few weeks I’ve stayed home and “Zoomed” into my office) and interact with teammates who have very different political ideas. I differ with other teammates on religion. And we all have different thoughts on culture, immigration, how to raise kids, and the best Mexican food in town.
We sometimes have deep, meaningful, and occasionally emotional and loud debates on these topics. Rarely are any minds changed but we do concede good points when presented.
And guess what? At the end of our sometimes heated discussion, we’re all still friends! How can that be?
We work together, respect each other, and, after the latest political debate, still laugh together because the following four characteristics light the path of our lives’ journeys:
Some people just don’t get this, I realize, and never will. In fact, the people who stopped reading this post after the first paragraph, even though at the outset I pleaded for them to stick with it, are probably calling me ugly names right now.
For most of us, though, if we’ll just adopt the four points above, perhaps we can all get along a little better, even to the point of having a meaningful conversation about some very important topics.
As for everyone on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn who thinks I’m a stupid, evil, SOB simply because I voted a certain way almost four years ago? How about connecting here on LI and let’s get to know each other.
You never know — you may just like me!
My passion is to help organizations build cultures where people are valued. Valued for who they are as a person, as an individual.
But many of us are not at work. In fact, I'm writing this from my home office. But we can still value people. Below are 10 ways we can show our care for others, both people who are close such as family, friends and neighbors, and complete strangers who will never know your name and never be able to say thank you. After all, we're not doing these things for recognition or a thanks -- we're doing these things because we care. And we want to make the world just a little bit better.
Let's start with the #1 way to value others during this time:
Stop the name-calling, bickering and rudeness on social media!
I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday and its unbelievable some of the comments I came across. Now before I go on, let me say this. Please, please, please hear me out! I'm going to lose some of you with these next few paragraphs but please stick with me, even if you disagree with my worldview.
Numerous tweets accused President Trump of murder. There were lots of comments expressing hope that Donald Trump would die due to the virus. Someone else said to keep President Trump away from Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders but have him associate with the "evil SOBs in his administration." And all of Trumps supporters were broadly labeled as stupid, fascists, racists, and other less-than-complementary terms.
Look, while I rarely agreed with President Obama, I never wished ill on him. And I don't know his character or his heart so I can't talk about the deep-inside motivations that drove his decisions. And the people around him and his supporters? I didn't want anything bad to happen to them, I didn't believe they were evil, and I never called them names.
It's no secret that our country is divided and we'll never heal or come together when we keep calling the other side names, often that start with an f-bomb.
But especially now, when so many people need our help, can't we put the politics aside, come together, and support one another, including the many government leaders who are doing their best to bring an end to this pandemic?
If you want, you can get back to name calling when this is all over (although I hope we can start having civil discussions about our differences).
Still with me? I hope so! Let's look at nine other ways to value people during this challenging time:
2. Stay home: Show your family, your co-workers, and most of all, our frontline medical workers that we care by staying home and healthy. The more we stay home, the more likely we'll avoid this nasty virus. We'll be healthy for our families and we won't add another patient to an already over-crowded, over-stressed healthcare system.
3. Sit In The Front Yard: Or on your balcony. Just because we're home doesn't mean we have to hide. My wife and I have taken to sitting on the front porch, waving to people as they stroll by or walk their dogs, saying hi and offering an encouraging word. And last night, we met two neighbors we didn't know!
If you must go out, add these small gestures to your To Do list:
4. Write a Note: It's easy to write a check-in email and send it to friends and neighbors. But how about making that extra effort by jotting down a short "thinking of you and hope you are well" note, sneaking outside when no one is around, and slipping it into a mailbox or taping it to the front door? What a great surprise to see an encouragement from a friend!
5. Take Only One Roll: Just because the sign says you can take two packs of toilet paper or two containers of disinfectant wipes doesn't mean you have to. Remember, the person behind you -- and the person who can't get to the store until the end of the day -- is just as stressed about toilet paper and hand sanitizer as you. So take one package now and come back later in the week for more.
6. Deliver cookies to ICU: We've all seen and heard the stories about our overworked and tired healthcare workers, particularly those brave men and women caring for the very sick in ICU. How about buying or baking some cookies or other tasty goodies and delivering them to your local hospital's ICU? And if you're too concerned about getting around sick people, drop the goodies off at the reception desk or simply have them delivered. And don't forget about our police and fire departments -- they're working hard, too, and would appreciate a tasty treat.
7. Treat the person behind you: As you drive through Starbucks, McDonalds, or any other food stop, after you pay for your order, treat the person behind you. Can you imagine their surprise when they don't have to pay? Then just give a friendly wave in the rearview mirror, pick up your food, and go about your business.
8. Leave an extra big tip: Many restaurant workers are out of work. Fortunately, many restaurants are still open, serving their menus as take-out. As you pick up your order, ask if the restaurant is still supporting the furloughed staff through tip sharing. If the answer is yes and you have the means, go above and beyond your normal tip and value your out-of-work server. And when we're able to return to restaurants, keep that extra tip going for a while so your server can catch up on rent and bills.
9. Donate food: On that food run to the grocery store, pick up a few extra cans of this or boxes of that and then make a quick run to the local food bank. The need for food and personal care products goes up dramatically during challenging times like this so help out those less fortunate than you by keeping the food banks stocked.
10. Donate blood: I know, this is a little bit extra effort and it's even a little scary. But the need for blood is still there. Help someone by donating not just food but life itself!
If we all pitch in and do some of these, it will be easier to make it through this pandemic. This is one of those times when we're all in it together. And who knows, maybe we'll keep doing these things after the quarantine is lifted! How awesome would that be!
What Value Others ideas do you have?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.