A little over five weeks ago I broke my foot. I admit it, I am a klutz! As I was leaving the stage after delivering a keynote, I stumbled on the first stair and fell down the remaining four. Not exactly a graceful exit, but as they say, “stuff happens!” What transpired next is a long story, and I will share some of that with you in upcoming posts, but the ultimate outcome was that my foot was in a cast for 23 days. For 23 days, I traveled through three countries, and through it all I was a little inconvenienced and a whole lotta miserable! Even though the fiberglass cast was lightweight, it was still bulky, uncomfortable and itchy, and worst of all, I just couldn’t move very fast! Despite being completely fed-up though, I came to a very important realization. My broken foot was actually a blessing in disguise! How, you ask?
You see, I have never before seen the world from the perspective of a disabled person. And the experience was humbling. In just a few hours, I got an insight into what physically challenged people must face on a daily basis. The world is not kind to those who have a physical disability – sidewalks and roads contain many tripping hazards; ramps are not always available; elevators are often out of service; getting anywhere takes much longer than you anticipate; and perhaps worst of all, many people dash and cut in front of the “slow person” holding up pedestrian traffic. What they don’t realize is that they often cause the disabled person to lose his or her balance. And to add insult to injury, the speed-demons roll their eyes and click their tongues as they rush past! In just a few short hours, I learned how different the world is when you journey in another person’s shoes. This broken foot was a blessing in disguise because I was forced to slow down and appreciate my environment at a more measured pace. This broken foot was a blessing in disguise because I quickly realized the importance of seeing the world from other people’s perspectives. This broken foot was a blessing in disguise because I swiftly learned that there is always room in our world to show compassion and kindness to others. Twenty-three days in a cast taught me some valuable leadership lessons, and I have promised myself that I will bring these same lessons in to the workplace.
What about you? Have you tried to see the world from your employees’ perspective? What have you learned?