Last Saturday was a great day to cycle. A friend and I had registered for a local ride and were excited to do the 35-mile route on a cool, north Texas spring morning.
The start of the ride pushed 200 cyclists into motion. My riding buddy and I fell into our normal drafting routine. He would lead for a few minutes, then I would advance to the front and break the wind for him.
About six miles into the race, I was drafting behind him, and I noticed that my bike was too close to his. Our tires had over-lapped which can wreak havoc on an otherwise peaceful bike ride.
I started to ease back to create a safe buffer between us, and our tires merged. That is the last thing that I remember about that bike ride.
They say I hit the pavement hard – planting the right side of my head and body firmly into the asphalt of the two-lane farm-to-market road.
They say I lay motionless. Groaning. They say I eventually talked to those around me and greeted them by name — over and over again.
I can’t remember anything about what actually happened. All I know is that my head hurts and my body aches. As best I can tell, I lost about an hour of my memory last Saturday morning.
Thankfully, I did not sustain any severe injuries. No bones were broken. I am a little bruised and scraped, but my body and mind remain largely intact!
(I have had some fun with Karen this week. I occasionally approach her, introduce myself, comment on her good looks, and ask her out on a date!)
This whole incident got me to thinking. How many times do we “lose an hour” of our life by failing to recognize and engage the people around us?
Sure, I lost an hour of my memory from last Saturday. It’s absence underscores the intensity of the impact my head sustained on the road. I would like to suggest, though, that the impact that comes from our lack of awareness has an even greater effect on our lives.
How many times do we fail to engage in the lives of our friends, spouses or children? Often, they beckon us to enter, to acknowledge, to listen.
When we don’t meet them where they are, we loose an opportunity. We lose a memory that otherwise could have been meaningful to them and us.
As leaders, we are called to the difficult tasks of leadership. Leadership is not easy. People only follow those they trust and respect.
Trust and respect are not the result of a title. They must be earned. What better way to earn your stripes as a leader than to engage those who you lead? People want to be heard. They need to be heard.
The more we acknowledge humanity, the more we affirm the perspective and contribution of those around us, the greater we impact them. Conversely, disengagement creates apathy and disillusionment.
And so, you don’t need a bump on your head to lose precious time, memories and influence. Be intentional about the opportunities to engage those around you. When tomorrow comes, will you remember today? The choice is yours.