Visiting New York on 9/11: A Note on Perspective

15 Sep

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Don’t Lose Sight of What Really Matters

I recently had the unique experience of traveling to New York City for a Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting that coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Consequently, this year was a little different than past BMA meetings in that my trip was an opportunity not only to talk about the B2B marketing industry with some of the leading companies and agencies in the country, but also to gain some important and much needed perspective.

This year, I arrived on the day of September 11 and decided to visit the memorial and see the lights, which are illuminated only a couple of nights a year. As I walked around Ground Zero, I saw firemen in dress blues from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, and many other cities. These men and women had been at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack, lending a hand with the recovery, clean up, and other support efforts for their brothers and sisters in the NYFD.

As I walked from the reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, I saw a big crowd around the Irish pub next to the fire station. Approaching the pub, I realized this was the place to be for all the firemen and women. I wasn’t sure if I could even go in, but as I entered, I realized I was more than welcome.

The firemen and women in the pub and the streets surrounding it were all talking, hugging, laughing, and sometimes even crying with their brothers and sisters who work to serve so many Americans in different cities across the country. Several times I attempted to buy these amazing, everyday heroes a beer or a drink. But every time, they replied with, “No, let me buy you a drink.”

“What? You’re buying me a drink? I should be thanking you.”

But because of their honor and pride, they wouldn’t allow me to buy them one.

We don’t always value the relationships with the people we serve, or who serve us. If you were offered something by the very people you serve, would you accept—or refuse and offer them one instead? Do you say thank you enough to the people who work for you? How about the people you work for?

From the memorial itself to the people I met in the city on this day, the experience of being in New York on the anniversary of 9/11 is something I wish everyone could experience. While a somber reminder of the worst attack on American soil, it’s also the location where thousands of people perished on what should have been just another typical Tuesday at the office.

As marketers, we have lots of “typical days” in the office. They tend to involve helping our companies or clients sell their products and services—they don’t tend to involve saving lives.

For us, making a mistake means a painful meeting or a brutal phone call—it doesn’t mean life or death.

When every project is rushed, we say it’s hot—but it’s not actually on fire.

We might run into a crazy meeting—but it’s not a burning building.

There is always another “typical day” at the office. But as we recognize and recall the events that forever changed our world, let’s also keep our perspective and remember that we can always be more humble, more thankful, and more appreciative of the opportunities we have. In short, more kind.

Appreciate the people you work with and work for, and those who work for you.

Do good work, but remember that your work isn’t the only thing that matters.

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2 Responses to “Visiting New York on 9/11: A Note on Perspective”

  1. Brenda Bryan September 16, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    Elton, thanks for sharing this. Much too often we get wrapped up in the ‘urgent’ and forget to focus on the things that really matter – each other. Thank you to the ERM team!

  2. Dodi Stobaugh September 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    This really hit home. I watched the 911, 15 years later and remember thinking how quick everything could be gone. It makes me feel more humble towards people that work and live where I work. I do have to say Thank you and remember how much they mean to me. That nothing is too important.

    Thank you for this one

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