Who Could You Call?

February 18, 2011 / General /

By Ryan W. Quinn

On Wednesday I wrote about a discussion I had with some administrators when I told them about my research on United Airlines Flight 93. This story reminds me of another story I heard, related to this. I heard this story from Dave Ulrich.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Dave was working as a consultant for a credit card company. They shared with him some unusual data. Credit card companies can track purchasing behavior on a massive scale, and one of the trends that surprised them was that, after September 11, there was a significant spike in the number of wedding rings bought at Wal-Mart.

Dave returned home from his consulting trip and mentioned this purchasing trend to his wife, Wendy. (Wendy is a licensed psychologist, and Dave’s co-author on the book, The Why of Work.) Wendy was not surprised at all by this purchasing trend. She said to Dave, “That trend is no surprise to me. You would not believe how many of my clients have told me, in the past few weeks, ‘If I had been on that plane, I would not have had anyone to call.'”

This observation, as well as Wednesday’s blog on courage and resilience and Monday’s blog on organizational healing invite us to seriously consider the question, “When life presents you with a personal crisis, who would you call?” It might be useful to take five minutes and make a list. If you experienced a personal crisis at work, who would you call? If you experienced a personal crisis at home, who would you call? If you experienced a crisis in your extended family, when you were on a trip, or in your neighborhood, who would you call?

On the flip side, who is likely to call you? Those who are most likely to be caring and helpful in times of personal trial are likely to be so because you have taken the time to show you care about them. An inventory of your personal relationships may reveal a need to re-distribute how you are spending your time.

How have you thought through the important relationships in your life? How does the quality of your relationships outside of work affect your performance at work? How does the quality of your relationships in work affect your performance at work? Please share any thoughts or insights you have in the comments below.