Last week I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Florida Center for Child and Family Services. There were 300 staff and guests in attendance, and I spoke on “CARE Packages for the Workplace—Dozens of Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit at Work.” I was especially honored to be asked to speak because of the vital and heartfelt work these wonderful folks do. They are part of a pilot program in the state as well as nationally to privatize foster care, and they are doing an amazing job of protecting the children in our counties. However, not only is the job itself stressful, but with the eyes of the nation upon them, they are even more in need of affirmation and inspiration.
I filled my program with inspiring stories and many immediately applicable action ideas such as beginning every meeting with three minutes of good news and calling the parents / spouse/ significant other of employees who are doing outstanding work to thank them for this precious person. The underlying theme of this presentation, as in every presentation or workshop I give, is that each one of us has a CHOICE in every interaction we have with anyone in our lives, the choice to create either a minus, a zero or a plus for that other person. Each time we make a human level connection (a plus), we leave both that person, ourselves, and the world a little better place. That is the most precious gift we each have to bring every day of our lives, no matter what our age, our job, or our status in life.
Near the end of my presentation I told one of my most powerful signature stories about Johnny, the grocery bagger with Downs syndrome. After he heard me speak, he started putting a thought for the day in every person’s groceries he bagged, changing the entire spirit in that store and finally ending in them being awarded as the best store in the entire United States! Then, I ended by sharing the story of my precious new friend, Bob Danzig.
Bob was placed in five foster homes as a child, desperately seeking someone to love him, and graduated at sixteen, not, he says, because he was smart, but because he got lost in the system and they moved him up two years! As a teenager, he took a job as an office boy at his local newspaper, the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union. Nineteen years later this extraordinary man, with no family support, became the paper’s publisher and finally CEO of the entire Hearst Newspaper Group.
A few days before I was going to speak, I asked Bob to tell me his story in his own words and this is what he wrote:
My two Angel Threads were a social worker, Mae Morse, who lifted my sense of self when she consistently ended every single session as she guided me to yet another foster home with the words to never forget, “YOU ARE WORTHWHILE.” My very first boss at the Times Union as a sixteen year old office boy, Margaret Mahoney, was my other angel. She had been a foster parent, learned of my coming through that system and took an extra interest in me. She sat me down after I had worked for her some four months and told me “she had been observing me.” She looked directly into my eyes and said, “YOU ARE FULL OF PROMISE.” Her being a woman in a position of authority caused that endorsement to be a tattoo on my spirit. She gave me permission to aspire! Nineteen years later I was publisher of that newspaper and seven years later in New York City as CEO for the entire nationwide Hearst Newspapers. I have never stopped hearing their words.
I ended this session with a song that was written about these words by Bob Danzig, Al McCree, and Jana Stanfield called, “You Are Worthwhile, You Are Full of Promise.” This is the chorus of the song:
“You are worthwhile; you are full of promise.
Angels in disguise reveal your destiny.
You are worthwhile; you are full of promise.
You’ll find angel threads woven through your life,
A lonely foster child moved from home to home;
Forced at an early age to face life on his own.
A caring social worker kept his hope alive;
Inspired him to be more than he could see with his own eyes.
Angels in disguise look just like you and me.
If you listen with your heart, you can hear them sing.”
And the final verse of the song expresses the gift we each can give to others in our lives:
“When life is full of trouble and the world is hard to face,
Angels all around light the way from fear to grace.
So be a willing vessel for those quiet whisperings
And the guiding loving spirit that comes on angel’s wings.
You will find your angels, like shelters in the storm.
They’ll give you inspiration, words to keep you warm.
So look for ways to help the people close to you.
When you share what you’ve been given, you can be an angel too.”
After the presentation a lovely young woman came up to me with tears in her eyes, and she said, “You have changed my life. I am a therapist who works with troubled adolescents. I have been told again and again that I must not get personally involved with these children, that I must keep a distance and not open my heart to them. However, you have finally given me permission to CARE.”
Perhaps we all need “permission to care” in this troubled, hectic, hurting world of ours. Whether you are a supervisor or manager in a company, a frontline employee, a volunteer, a Mom at home, or a college student, you can make a difference in each interaction you have with anyone. I have long used a quotation from Mother Teresa as a philosophy of life: “Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier.”
I will challenge you, my readers, as I challenged the audience that day and as I have challenged myself nearly every day of my life: WHOSE ANGEL WILL YOU BE TODAY?
Note: You can order Bob’s book “Angel Threads” as well as a CD of the song “You Are Worthwhile, You Are Full of Promise” at www.bobdanzig.com.
© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.