Don't Wait

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She was a great boss.

That rare combination of friendly and professional, cool enough you could hang out with her and have fun, but remember she was in charge come Monday morning. Unlike those horror stories of "gotcha" supervisors, she wanted troops under her command to succeed, and she got it everyone also had a life outside of work. I felt like she had my back, and it motivated me to be a better, more effective employee. Understanding leaders, she proved, create happy and highly productive workers, a management strategy maybe more organizations should try.

So, when I applied for another job, she said she was sorry to lose me, and gave me the most glowing recommendation. I landed that new job, and loved it. I never forgot how she'd helped me, and kept meaning to drop her a note.

But my new position was keeping me busy. Whenever her name came up, or I was in the old neighborhood, I thought of her, and "send note" went on the next day's to-do list. But somehow, I never got around to checking it off. There was always time, after all.

But there wasn't. When I heard she died, the first thing I thought was I never did send her that note. And, though I'm sure she knew I appreciated her, I wish I had told her.


So, my former boss has tasked me with one final project: making sure to let people know I appreciate them. if there's a person you need to say something to, say it while you have the chance. Tell those who matter - heck, even if it's your boss - how much they mean to you. We all punch out of life's time clock sooner or later and there's truly less time than you think.

My former boss and I will never sit down together for another annual employee review. But she has still managed to counsel me in an area for improvement in my performance. And it's a tool all of us could use to improve our performance in this job called life.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches in the San Francisco Unified School district.