The following is part two of a three-part blog series based on the legendary inspirational speaker John O’Leary and bestselling author of ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life who was the keynote speaker at Ultimate Software’s Connections 2018 conference in March.
After reminding the audience at Ultimate Software’s Connections Conference that every day is a blessing to be alive, O’Leary then moved on to the second question of igniting a radically inspired life, “Who cares?”
Generally, when we ask this during hard times it is rhetorical and we are asking it only to imply that nobody cares about us. Again, O’Leary challenged the audience to change our perspective by seeking those around us for help and actively engaging them in our struggles. O’Leary argued that instead of asking behind closed doors, we should reach out to those in our lives who care and leverage them; only then will we see the true answer to this question!
In O’Leary’s case, it was not whom he reached out to for support but who reached out to him with support that changed his life.
O’Leary provides a vivid accounting of their first encounter: O’Leary is lying in bed. His eyes are covered with bandages, his arms and legs are strapped to the hospital bed and unable to move. Soft, hesitant footsteps drip closer. The sound of a metal chair dragging across the floor echoes off the walls. Legendary announcer Jack Buck says in his distinct tone “Kid, You hear me?” After O’Leary musters up a short nod, Jack assured O’Leary that he has the strength to pull through these injuries and scurried out of the room.
O’Leary later found out that after their brief conversation, Jack Buck went into the hallway and nearly collapsed at the horror of O’Leary’s injuries. In addition to severe burning, O’Leary lost most of his fingers and could barely speak, move or see. Instead of moving on, Jack continued to support and visit O’Leary. Jack cared. A lot.
O’Leary went on to describe that support. After being released from the hospital, O’Leary received a small package from Jack Buck that included a signed baseball. Inside was a note that said, “If you want another signed ball, write a thank you note for this one.”
O’Leary broke this down for the crowd: “As a young boy, the last thing I wanted to do was write. Having lost most of my fingers, I hated the idea of even trying to write. I didn’t know if I could. But right there in front of me was every boy’s dream, an autographed baseball with the promise of more.” It didn’t take long for O’Leary to realize what was happening: Jack was giving him the ultimate motivation. It also didn’t take long for O’Leary to have dozens of baseballs and lots of writing practice!
In utility line clearance, we all care for one another especially when it comes to safety. It's why the refrain "we are our brothers' keeper" is so important in this industry. But we should all ask ourselves on a daily basis, "Am I doing all that I can to motivate my coworkers, friends and family members to achieve their fullest?"
We need to care. A lot.