A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you


Red Headed Speed Bump

I don’t like “fast food.”  Occasionally, if the need arises, I’ll go to Subway.  It was my visit yesterday with a patron in Subway that inspired this post.


The line was fairly long and usually when this happens, I slip out of line, head three stores down to SoYo, my FroYo shop, grab coupons, come back and hand them out.  But yesterday, for no reason in particular, I chose to wait out my time in line.


In front of me was a CUTE red headed boy.  (Please know I prayed for a red headed child…most of my siblings got one and darnit, I wanted one too!  But alas, I have two towheads.)

Anyway, this little boy had beautiful red hair so I complimented him accordingly.  He politely said thank you and I proceeded to tell his mother that I was jealous of her carrot top kid!

The young boy asked if I had a picture of my kids.  I showed him a recent one from my phone.  His mom then showed me a recent one taken of him and his little sister.


It was then that I noticed she had
a tear in her eye. 



Moments of Significance!”




I allowed silence…and then it came: her story.

Her daughter had died.

They felt fortunate to have had her in their lives for 20 months. 

They had started a foundation in her name. 

They missed her but knew she was in a safe and pain-free place. 

Her son had won the chance to name an animal in the zoo and he named it (a lamb) after his sister.


I cannot tell you how happy I was that the Subway employees were turtle slow that day!

Had they been on their game, I would not have had the opportunity to be the sounding board this woman needed.  As it was, we kept talking long after the sandwiches were made.

As she talked, I noticed that her entire body changed; her face went from pained to relaxed as she spoke of her daughter’s genetic disorder, her ailments, her life and her eventual death.


For no reason in particular, I chose to stay in line.
For every cathartic need in her heart, this loving mother told me her story.


She wouldn’t have if I had not noticed that small little tear.

She wouldn’t have if I had not allowed the brief moment of silence.


She and her son came back to SoYo later and while we didn’t talk then (I had since gone back to my real job!), I got a sweet message and a picture of her son with his cup of FroYo!  I am confident this is a start of a good relationship.


Today, as I reflect back on yesterday’s conversation, I realize I move too fast.  Shoot, I typically pride myself on it!


However, I also realize that as a parent, a friend, a daughter, a sibling, an HR Professional, a Supervisor and a Leader, I need to slow down.



How many “moments of significance” have I missed?


How many of my family members, friends, staff, colleagues or customers have needed to tell their stories, release their pain or frustration, receive empathy, eliminate confusion, obtain information, etc. but I was or am too busy to notice?


How many chances to build or repair a relationship have gone undiscovered because I am multi-tasking or am otherwise pre-occupied?


I don’t know how many…but I fear the number is large.

I commit to this: from now on, the number will be smaller!


What about you? 
Are you moving too fast?




AwarenessCommunicationsEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsEncouragementEngagementHappinessHuman ResourcesLeadershipListeningRetentionTeamworkValueWorkforce Satisfaction

Heather Kinzie • July 21, 2012

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  1. Cassy Kincaid September 2, 2012 - 12:50 pm Reply

    Great story – thank UOP for sharing it. I too, have had some humbling encounters over the last 2 years that have reminded me that connecting to others is what makes life interesting and satisfying. What a lucky encounter for all of you.

    • Heather Kinzie September 9, 2012 - 7:06 pm Reply

      Thanks, Cassy, for the kind words! Indeed, we were both lucky for running into each other that day!

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