It was lunchtime at the construction site and we were all sitting around joking and complaining about the heat. The laborers were busy completing the scaffolding for our crew to climb and work on the next level of the building.
Greg and I finished our lunch and began to climb the scaffold. Once we reached the top, somewhere around forty feet high, I walked across the top tier of planking. What I didn’t know until it was too late was that the laborers had overlapped two planks without the proper security. When I reached that portion of planking I crashed through and began to fall. I threw my hands above my head praying to grab onto anything solid. As I felt the panic strike me, Greg grabbed my hand and wrist from above me. I recall looking into his eyes and seeing his pain from holding my weight. I pleaded with him not to drop me. He gave a half smile and urged me to reach for the side of the scaffold. It seemed like an eternity, but we managed to reach the metal cross rod.
I spent time with Greg this past Memorial Day remembering the day he saved my life. I was surprised at the amount of detail he retained from that day. Consider this thought, in life we often see others falling. Not from a construction site scaffold but from a life scaffold. Reach for them as Greg reached for me. Save them if you can, you are not just saving them, you are saving yourself. Believe in their ability to make a comeback. For when is it your turn to make a comeback someone will believe in you.
It was, for me, a fall to forever because it will always guide my thinking and feelings. That experience has guided me more in decisions than any boardroom battle I ever encountered. I believe the role of the leader is to catch the falling colleague until he can secure himself. At times in the past, I have been criticized for hanging on too long to falling colleagues. I hoped they would reach above their heads and take hold. I believe the fall from dignity and self-esteem is as dangerous as the fall from a building. Believe, with me, you can make a grab for a falling friend, colleague or yourself. You can make a difference, achieve impossible goals, and dream a new dream.
Be who others trust, when things go wrong.