In life as in business, there are always going to be things you take for granted, but they won’t necessarily always be there.
A lot of the time the things we take for granted are in fact, people. Not things but actual human beings.
When you’re moving full steam ahead, trying to grasp every opportunity and make every end meet, it can be easy to overlook those who are supporting you. And, it can be easy to look down upon those who surround you.
Little People Make Everything Possible
As much as we pride ourselves on working and taking care of ourselves, it is impossible to be entirely self-sufficient.
Businesses require employees and customers, Youtubers and Bloggers require viewers and followers, and everybody needs assistance from somebody.
The fact that no-one can truly be self-sufficient is why it truly astounds me how much we as a society take people for granted.
I used to work in the customer service industry, and what really gets to me is how angry customers can be with someone who’s trying to help them. It can be hard to remember at times that the person on the other side of the phone, counter or screen, is just trying to do their job. And vice versa when you’ve spent all day having customers yell at you, it can be hard to remember that they’re human too and just want their problem resolved.
Now it isn’t just customer service workers that are taken for granted, there are plenty of professions that people tend to disregard or see as unimportant.
Teachers, for instance, it’s easy to be mad when teachers strike or to judge their skills in a field based on the fact they teach. However, teachers are carrying out an extremely important task, they are educating the next generation.
Just a few years ago, I actually wanted to be a teacher myself. I decided against it as I didn’t want to go through another year of university, but I did have the honour of tutoring at my old high school for a term which was kind of like being a teacher’s aide for a number of classes.
Helping students was one of the most rewarding tasks I’ve ever done, but it was also incredibly hard.
Teachers have to take care of usually 10+ students. A teacher needs to not only have a grasp of what they are teaching but also be capable of engaging young minds – and trust me they are prone to wondering.
All in all, being a teacher is a lot of work, and yet people tend to say “those who can’t do, teach” which is not entirely true. I’ve had art teachers who were skilled in a range of favourite mediums; what they should really say is “those that can’t teach, do.” After all, not everyone can teach.
Anyway, that was a longer tangent than I was expecting but I’m sure you get the point. Every job matters in its own way, we shouldn’t take those who work in different fields for granted. Of course, usually, the things we take for granted most are the people closest to us.
A Personal Eye-Opener
This year has been a real eye-opener for me, showing me just how much I take for granted and how much others I know take for granted.
I started the year moving from tropical Darwin to tranquil Bribie Island, and of all things I never expected my moving to affect was my friendships.
I took for granted that the friends I’d had since high school would always be there. So I was extremely surprised when one of my friends cut ties with my best friend the day before I was due to fly out, what was even more surprising is said friend didn’t reach out to me beforehand or even after. Now that I’ve moved I’ve also found another of my friends and I have fallen out of touch, though I still very much consider them my friend.
A few years back I remember reading a study about friendships. It found that generally, people who have maintained a friendship for more than seven years tend to remain friends for life… but my friend whose cut ties with my best friend has known both of us for 10 years, same as the friend I’ve lost touch with, I’ve also got a friend that I’ve been lifelong friends with yet we haven’t talked in over a year – so obviously there are no guarantees you’ll remain friends and none that you’ll remain close friends.
Friendship is like a business; you can’t just start it and be done. It takes constant work to maintain a good, healthy connection. The same of course is true for all relationships.
Family is no different, but I think of all the many things we take for granted it’s the most so. Like I said earlier this year has been a real eye-opener, moving and friendships aside it’s been a rather emotionally taxing year.
In March this year, I was planning to attend a friend’s wedding in NSW. A few weeks before I was due to go my Dad called to say my grandfather (Hanton) had passed away. This wasn’t the first death in the family or the first family funeral for me, my great-aunt had died when I was younger and a few years ago my great-uncle had passed.
I wasn’t particularly close with this grandfather, but you know it still upset me a great deal and I wanted to go to the funeral. I asked Dad to let me know when it was – three days before the wedding in NSW. I scheduled a flight to South Australia and another flight from there to NSW.
On the day of the funeral I was asked if I wanted to speak, I declined but after listening to my uncles and cousins speak I decided to honour his memory as well. What I had realised during the speeches was that while I hadn’t been as close to him as some of my cousins, I was far closer to him than others and I had my own unique memories of him.
When I flew to NSW for the wedding I thought I was okay, I’d done my mourning. Yet watching my friend and her husband during their first dance, it occurred to me my grandfather will never see me get married. It’s easy when you’re as young as I am to forget how old other members of the family are.
Besides my grandfather, I also lost a cousin this year (first cousin once removed to be precise) and on top of that one of my uncles on my father’s side is in poor health, which brings me back to taking things for granted.
I’ve never been close with my Dad’s family, which is odd as they’ve always been physically closer to me. I get quite anxious about talking with them as I don’t really share anything in common with them other than some DNA. So I was quite put off when my dad asked me to call my uncle, but I did anyway.
I actually had a wonderful chat with my uncle. It’s probably the most we’ve ever spoken to each other and I was surprised how interested in my writing he was.
Mum calls me a softie, and I definitely am. I like to help people and to give but I also need a bit of a push sometimes. While I’m not sure I’ll ever be close to my Dad’s family I don’t want it to be for lack of trying, I don’t want to take that half of my family for granted even if at times it seems they’re taking me for granted.
Putting that Mindset into Business
When it comes to business you need to take a step back every now and then and say to yourself “Is there anything I’m taking for granted?”
The same as in your personal life, work relationships take effort.
If an employee has been doing an exceptional job let them know you’ve noticed, if a business partner is going through a tough time let them lean on you for a time (not too long though).
Of course, make sure you also ask “am I being taken for granted?”