Today was the first day back for my team and me back in the office after Hurricane Irma. But, the relative destruction and inconvenience of the most recent hurricane in our area was in stark relief because we had news of the passing of a member of our team.
Our team member, Uriel, passed away over the weekend and with him, we all lost someone who made our worlds just a little brighter. Here’s the thing about life, many of us have thousands of days, but you never really know when the last one has arrived.
When we hired Uriel, he was recruited to our team from Kansas. We’re based out of Orlando. He lived his life in a wheelchair, but this did not define him nor was he someone who was constrained by that chair. When you met him, it was the obvious thing you noticed, and within a few beats, you forgot about it because of who he was as a person.
He told one of our vice presidents when he arrived on the scene in Orlando and was asked why he moved from Kansas, “Have you ever seen snow pile up and try to use a wheelchair in the snow?”
That little story about Uriel makes me smile, and I’m sure it’ll make a lot of my team members smile on this tough day.
I’ll be candid with you; I have no clue of the day-to-day struggles that he had with his disability or otherwise. However, I know he was someone who worked hard to show you everything about him that rose way above that chair and, in my opinion, he stood tall.
But, we never really know someone else’s reality because we don’t walk, or in Uriel’s case, ride in their shoes. He wanted to be like everyone else, and he was because he earned our admiration and respect with his professionalism, hard work, charm and easygoing personality.
Do I know all of the colors that made up Uriel’s life palette?
But, what I do know is that he drove a wickedly cool “bad ass” car, and he was the kind of person who just made things happen. What I know is that he was someone who was generous with his laughter and he wanted to make connections with the people he worked with at the office.
As the CEO of the company where he worked, he was the guy who did what needed to be done when it was needed. Although he wasn’t part of the executive team, his name came up often in our team meetings when something had to be delegated and completed.
Often, it was “Uriel will do it.”
And, he did do it. Whatever he was asked to do, he was the kind of guy who gave it his all and got the job done. In my opinion, he was a damn good man, and he was a valued member of my team who will be sorely missed.
I’ve written a number of these reflection pieces in the past, and I’ll admit that it’s tough to write them. Again, we have a reminder of how very precious life is and how every moment counts.
Today, I’d like to ask my team and anyone who reads this or knew of Uriel to be mindful of the impression you leave on others; always make it the best. Uriel was someone who had a positive outlook, despite the challenges of his life, but he made us smile, encouraged his team members and most importantly, he was someone who was genuine in every aspect of his life. He was real, and so he lived a good life––even if it was way too short.
Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)
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