This is an issue it is easy to ignore, as it is hidden from most of us, but one that those of us in the hospitality industry can make a positive impact on, by noticing and reporting things that are out of the ordinary, such as a youth arriving at a hotel with no baggage, alone or accompanied. For Michele, one of the people who has inspired her around this work is Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a force in the industry who early recognized the contribution the industry could make. She is not alone as you will read in the link above and also in this article by Keith Johnston who shared the work that Kimberly Ritter and Nix Conference and Event Management of St. Louis are doing to raise awareness - also worth a read.
There are many successes and industry innovations this woman and this family have brought to our industry, but this is a story of a great loss and the thoughtful approach to life that came from this that Michele shared with me the next time we met. While it is documented that the Nelsons lost one of their daughters just shortly after she graduated from high school as valedictorian in a tragic auto accident, the impact of this is so personal that even having lost a sibling, I cannot imagine their pain. The next part that Michele shared was as something that inspired her and which I asked if I could share. Although it is neither her story to tell or mine, it moved me to consider the power this could have on our lives, and I believe Marylin Carlson Nelson will understand the spirit in which we are sharing it, because it is moving, inspiring, and something we can all aspire to. As one of our most recognized women leaders, her belief in sharing knowledge that inspires positive change is world renowned and has had a global reach.
The story continues that shortly after this tragedy, they went back and read their daughter's valedictory speech, full of youthful optimism, hope for the future and a pledge to live every day to the fullest. From this her and her husband came up with a strategy to view their life as if it was a masterpiece, and do what they could to live up to this, which I share here. At the end of every day, they would ask, "would you put your signature on this day?" If you imagined your life as a great masterpiece, and today was a painting, would you put your signature on it? Did you do your best with every interaction? Did you put in your best effort at work? In your relationship? With that program at work or the challenge you faced that day?
We should finish each day with a sense of pride in what we have accomplished, whether it is producing a spectacular event, fairly negotiating a contract, truly taking the time to play with a child, cooking and appreciating a meal with your family or friends, planting a garden space, or finishing your own masterpiece. Whatever it is you do in a day, take pride in how you do it, endeavor to succeed in the challenges. savor the victories, and add your signature.