Hey everyone! For those of you who read my newsletter often, you’ll know that I usually begin with a whimsical paragraph filled with wonder and whimsy (I like the word whimsy, so I used it twice. Three times now.) This time, though, will be a bit different. I speak often about the importance of small things, and how the little gestures we make – as leaders, colleagues, business partners, whatever – often have a greater impact than they are given credit for. Well today I’d like to share with you an example of exactly that, and I hope it will drive home how big a deal those little things can be.
On January 24 I was speaking at a large tech conference in Tampa, Florida. I finished around 10am, then headed to the airport to catch a noon flight. Everything was normal – flight was on time, no expected delays – and it promised to be another forgettable plane ride from somewhere to somewhere.
Until my wife called while I was standing on the jetbridge on my way to board the plane, absolutely hysterical as she told me that she was going to have an emergency C-section. She’d gone in for her weekly pregnancy check-up, had mentioned that she hadn’t felt the baby move the day before, had been given a few tests – and had then been told that the baby needed to come out NOW.
It was the only appointment during the entire pregnancy that I had missed.
I was able to talk to a doctor for all of two minutes before they needed to begin the procedure. I was assured that my wife was going to be fine, and that they expected everything would be fine with the baby as well. But I know enough about doctor-speak to know that the last part was an educated guess at best.
Needless to say, when I hung up the phone I was a wreck. My wife was so frightened, and I had promised her over and over that I was going to be there for her when it came time to give birth. At this point I was in my seat, barely holding it together as I called my brother to let him know what was going on and to please call everyone else for me as I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone for what I expected to be two and a half agonizing hours.
Cue the little things.
The guy sitting next to me had overhead everything and told me his wife had been through similar emergency procedures and had come out OK. He then alerted the flight attendants, who were enormously sympathetic. One of them, Jasmine, told me to keep my phone on during the flight and reminded me that I might be able to connect to Wi-fi to send emails or Whatsapp messages back and forth to my family. Thankfully I was, and so for the entire flight I was on my phone, texting away to a dozen people to get information and arrange for people to meet Laura at the hospital and take care of our dogs. (Thank you, by the way, miracle engineers who can somehow create devices that send messages that can be captured while moving 600 miles an hour). Another flight attendant told me she had been born at 2 pounds 8 ounces over 50 years ago, and if they could save her then my son would certainly be OK. Finally, about 30 minutes into my flight I got the news that everything had gone well – my wife was OK, my son was OK (he would ultimately need a couple blood transfusions but nothing more serious than that), and that I had officially become a father somewhere over Florida or Georgia.
When you really analyze what these people did, it’s really almost nothing. They let me talk on my phone. They told me things would be OK. These aren’t grand gestures. But right then, they meant the world to me. I wish I could properly thank Jasmine, or the other flight attendant, or the guy sitting next to me, whose names I don’t even know. But I suppose this newsletter will have to do.
We’re home now. My wife is doing well, and our son (Adrian Lucas Havens, 7lb 5oz, 19 ¾ inches, born 12:06pm on January 24, 2017) is home and sleeping and eating like a champ. And now more than ever I appreciate the power of little things. Because our son sure is little – his forearm is barely larger than one of my fingers – but he has somehow managed to occupy basically all of my thoughts.
So this month, please do something very, very small for someone around you. Something so simple you might not even consider it anything at all. I promise it’ll make an impact.
Meet Adrian Lucas Havens!