Business Lessons and the Nightly News

It occurred to me while watching the news that we can either become somewhat desensitized to what is going on around the world or we can choose to learn from what we hear on the news and use it to help ourselves and others.

Each and every night, we hear about tragedy, about starvation and genocide, a crazed gunman killing dozens, company CEOs getting huge severance packages, about terrorism, about political firings, and the list goes on. Since we hear it every night, we may tend to tune it out, to become somewhat immune to it. Think of the paramedic or ER doctor who must become desensitized to the suffering in order to survive. Is that in our best interest, either for ourselves or for others? Should we allow ourselves to become desensitized to what is going on around us so that we can avoid the pain that might come with it if we allow ourselves to feel?

When the Virginia Tech tragedy happened, I felt great compassion for everyone involved: those who lost loved ones, those who were injured, those who suffered in any way. I caught myself thinking about what political maneuvering might come out of it, what finger pointing there would be, and about what lessons we could learn from such a tragic event.

I tend to look at every event as a learning opportunity, so I looked at this event and wondered how it might also apply to business. In addition to being a center for learning, VT is a business, so it seemed an appropriate, though tragic, example. We have a long way to go before we know everything about what happened, and we may never know everything. But with what we do know, what can we learn?

I think we can learn that relationships matter, that how we treat people matters, and that when policies and systems are in place to protect people from certain potentially dangerous scenarios, we must enforce and abide by those policies and systems. When those policies and systems are not followed, those responsible must be held accountable. That also means that if we are responsible, we must own up to our responsibility. It does not mean we deflect the blame from ourselves by blaming others or by having convenient memory lapses. It also does not mean that we invent new policies or systems just because we didn’t follow the ones that were already in place. Lawmakers love to do that, and you and I are paying for it, still.

My cousin and her husband are graduate students at VT. They were deeply affected by what happened because, as she puts it, “…it’s been heavy and sad for all of us. Our elementary school lost two parents and one of my colleagues lost her roommate. The list goes on and everyone here is less than one degree of separation from this tragic loss.”

Wow, and I just heard it on the news.

There are more moments (seconds) in a week than there are minutes in a year. Make each moment count. Be conscious and know that everything you do is important, it makes a difference.

Well, get on with it!


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