Like almost half of the country, I got away for Spring Break with my wife and a few close friends. It was the trip of a lifetime and it should have been – after all, I just turned 40 and I wanted to celebrate the milestone. So I splurged. We spent a week on a beautiful sailboat cruising the British Virgin Islands (BVI’s), snorkeling, hanging out on the beaches, and eating all the fresh seafood we could handle. A few days into our trip after watching yet another amazing sunset, I found it hard to fully appreciate the experience.
Why? The setting was inspiring. The beauty was amazing. The adventure was gripping. What I realized was that I was incapable of comprehending the magnitude of this experience. It was beyond me. I couldn’t fully appreciate it because I had nothing to do with creating it. I didn’t form the clouds or the seas. I didn’t do anything to set the sun or to usher in such clear blue water. My appreciation was limited by my comprehension. Don’t get me wrong — I truly appreciated the experience. But my lack of comprehension limited my appreciation.
I think this also applies to our everyday lives and our everyday work as well. Just yesterday, I asked several members of the SVI team to stretch themselves on a deliverable. I wanted a piece of work done faster and better for one of our clients. I made the request, but I wasn’t a part of the process. I had no part in creating the deliverable. The team delivered my request and the work was exceptional. In my typical fashion, I grabbed the work, gave a casual “thanks” and then raced out the door to my client meeting. I appreciated the work and the work was great. But only later did I realize that my lack of involvement likely limited my appreciation. I began to imagine some of the members of my staff saying, “he has no idea what went into making that happen.”
Don’t we often experience this in our work? We may be impressed with what someone else produces, but our lack of involvement limits our appreciation. I often find myself overlooking someone else’s big accomplishment because of my lack of exposure. My appreciation often occurs after I hear a client’s reaction to our work, not when I view the work for my own eyes. I can find myself taking the work of others for granted, not fully realizing the effort that went into it. This not only limits my ability to fully acknowledge the value we are providing, but can also have an impact on the sense of value others perceive of their work which can impact future productivity, creativity and the joy they gain from their work. While work quality can stand on its own, the full expression of appreciation generates motivation, inspiration and creativity for the entire team that keeps them going and growing to new levels.
Coming off of my Spring Break trip and experiencing one of the most extraordinary places on earth, I want to do more to appreciate the work of others. I want to be more sensitive to the time and effort that someone else puts forward that I may be completely ignorant to. This perspective is also timely for me as Easter is approaching – comprehending God’s gift of life when I had nothing to do with it.
Let’s do more to appreciate life and the work of others regardless of our involvement. Let’s not allow our lack of understanding to limit our appreciation and the inspiration and joy of others that follows.