Why it matters . . .

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  It’s the holiday where we remember those who have fallen while in service for their country in the Armed Services.

Don’t panic – this isn’t a political diatribe or something meant to shake you up.  Just the opposite.  I wanted to let you know why this holiday matters to me.  You see, I’m an Army brat.  I am the first of two sons born to Staff Sergeant John Thomas Browne.  I was born on an Army base in Nuremburg, Germany back when there was an East and West Germany.

My Dad served in the Vietnam War and was unique.  He wasn’t drafted, he chose to enlist.  I can tell you amazing stories about my dad like when he fell off the back of a jeep riding through base and a tank ran over him (literally) and he was barely scratched.  Or, I could tell you about the tours he did in Vietnam fighting on purpose for our country and directing action with other soldiers while only in his early 20’s.  My dad was a devout Detroit Lions fan and I remember curling up with him on the couch to watch the Lions take on the hated Packers.

Sadly, these are only memories.  My dad passed away in 1968 at the age of 26.  I was four years old and my brother was two.  Most of our stories come from pictures and memories from those who knew him.  This week my mom sent me the commendation letter for the Bronze Star that my dad earned for heroic efforts leading his battalion while wounded in the battle of Ia Drang Valley.  He laid in a field which had been sprayed with Agent Orange the day before with an open neck wound for 25 hours, but he led his men with no concern for himself.  It brought me to tears because I have that Bronze Star.

This is a picture of the awards my dad earned that my wife lovingly put together as a Christmas present for me one year.  It is displayed proudly in my house as a reminder of my dad’s service.

Tomorrow I get the privilege of marching in the Memorial Day parade in West Chester, Ohio with Boy Scout Troop 941.  I am humbled to be their Scoutmaster.  We will march for two miles in the hot sun to a cemetery to honor those that have fallen in combat.  The boys in our Troop saw these medals and why Memorial Day matters . . . at least to me.

Tomorrow, don’t just be thankful for a day off or for a great excuse to gather with family and friends.  Be thankful for those that serve in the Armed Forces.  I know I am.

Pump it up !!

I don’t know if you celebrated it or not, but I declared yesterday “Favorite Human Day !!”  What is this day, you may ask?  It’s a day dedicated to telling your favorite humans how wonderful and amazing they are !!  That’s it.  Pretty simple.

Now, when some of you read this, you’ll think “Why would I tell someone that they’re amazing with no other reason and/or agenda?” Or something like, “Well, if I do that, won’t they expect something from me?”

You see I think there’s a serious thing missing not only in our lives at work, but in our lives in general.  And that is . . . encouragement !!

Really, it’s true.  Try this . . . when you get/receive feedback – is it negative or positive most of the time?  I’ll pause for the answer.  It’s negative isn’t it?  In fact, the majority of our systems in HR are built on negatives including our policies, performance reviews and general employee relations when we have to “deal” with people and their issues.  Ask yourself this – do you spend your time telling people what NOT to do, or what TO do?  I think I know the answer.

How do we expect our cultures to change when we don’t encourage one another?  Why do we think that if we’re positive with people that they’ll just eventually turn on us?

Not me.  I encourage others.  I do it all the time without being asked and expecting nothing in return.

I follow the prophetic words of one of my rock n’ roll icons – Elvis Costello in his classic tune “Pump it Up” from This Year’s Model:

“Pump it up when you don’t really need it.  Pump it up until you can feel it.”

You don’t need a reason to encourage people.  In fact, if you just do it randomly and genuinely, you’ll probably be met with cynicism because people just aren’t used to it.  Don’t be discouraged.  Keep doing it.

This week I spoke at a local one-day SHRM Conference and the attendees and I were laughing (in fact howling at times) and having a great time – at a conference !!!  It was such a great relief to see HR people having fun and enjoying themselves talking about what we do for a living !!

Oh, and just so you know, my first “faves” were my wife and two amazing kids.  Then I called a few other faves and just left a voice mail to encourage them and tell them that I think life is better because they’re around and a part of my life.  Got another person today and we laughed and laughed and he even said, “Man, I needed a call like this today.”

I’m not going to list who I called or name drop.  These people mean the world to me, so I tell them directly.  Remember that all of us are humans.  Humans need encouragement.

Got a fave ??  Take time this week and let them know.  They’ll love it !!