- Posted September 10, 2013 by
Charlotte, North Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Lessons Learned from September 11, 2001
Lesson one: Remember the people who mean the most to you in life and let them know how you feel
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was delivering a three hour seminar and book signing on one of my books, Indispensable Employees. How to Hire Them. How to Keep Them in Houston, Texas. About an hour into my talk to executives and managers at the Shell Oil Corporation, a rather official-looking man interrupted my presentation when he bolted through the door and delivered the astonishing news. Stunned, I acknowledged my sadness at what had just happened, and in a daze proceeded to my next power point slide. Inside, I was super-anxious about getting through my presentation so I could return home to Boston that evening. No flights left Houston that night and in the long days that followed, I honestly wasn’t certain if I’d see my beloved Boston and family any time soon.
The calls I made from Houston during the next few Armageddon-feeling days and those I received from people worried about my post 9-11 whereabouts spoke volumes. I was astonished to discover who felt the need to locate me and make sure I was still alive and out of harm’s way. I now make it a point to let those who are near and dear to me know how I feel about them. I don’t want a frantic cell phone call or answering machine to be how they find out in the end how much I really cared for and adored them.
I often wonder if the people going to work at the World Trade Center in NYC for the last time knew that the stacks of emails they were rushing to send out on that September morning or the stock prices they were checking on for clients weren’t going to be the most important thing they would do on their final day on this earth? Did they have time before they left for their office to kiss or tell their children, spouses, or significant others how much they loved them? I don’t always get it right, but I’m trying harder to make sure that the special people in my life know I love them.
Lesson two: Approach each day as if it is my last.
I’ve often wondered if any of the almost 3,000 people who perished as a result of the 9/11 events had a clue that their end was near? Some believe that if you’re really in tune with the universe there can be signs that your time in this life is up. I’ve thought about whether I’d recognize those signals when my number has expired? Just in case I don’t get the clues, I’ve started to try and live each day as if it is my last. I’ll admit, that I’m not successful everyday living in that manner and I certainly don’t want to speed up the process of dying,” I do, however try each day to write down at least three things for which I am grateful. So far, that powerful technique has helped me to stay focused on approaching each day as if it is my last.
While I try not to think this way, every September 11th anniversary, I can’t help but think about what if terrorists try something again? Having just endured the Boston Marathon Bombing in April of this year, I know that the answer is that they probably will try to strike again. Instead of obsessing on this terrible thought, I’ve had to reframe my thinking and have adopted the following philosophy. Rather than worry about my demise, I need to make sure that I’m working on making my life right so when that time comes I can leave this earth knowing that I’ve made a positive memorable difference and have helped others to do the same. Now that I’ve shared my lessons, I’d love to hear about any you’ve discovered.
Martha R. A. Fields is a CEO, author of seven books and a global leader, human resources and diversity/inclusion expert. She can be contacted via LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/martharafields or at firstname.lastname@example.org