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Quint Studer, Special to the Pensacola News Journal
Studer: Never underestimate the difference you can make
Don’t underestimate the difference you can make, or that you already do make.
In many cases, a person doesn’t get immediate positive feedback. Often, life gets in the way. The person we want to thank isn’t available. Maybe we plan to say or write something, then we get busy.
On Dec. 24, 1995, my sister-in-law, Jeanne Martin, called me at 5 a.m. She said something terrible has happened. My first inclination was an elderly uncle who was in poor health.
She said Brian Fitzpatrick, just 19 years old, was dead. Jeanne said there was a car accident early in the morning that took Brian’s life. My family drove to Brian’s house, and as we entered, Brian’s parents, Kathy and Mike, were still in shock.
They had been in the emergency room and had only returned home for a few hours. Lots of family, neighbors and friends were at the Fitzpatrick home. Brian was on the University of Illinois-Chicago baseball team, so players and coaches also came.
The next day, Christmas Day, the house was again filled with family support. The wake, a large event, was held Dec. 26. The UIC baseball team lined up in their uniforms along the casket like a team lines up on opening day. The local priest and the head baseball coach delivered on-point eulogies during the funeral the following day.
About seven months later, June 9, 1996, we left the Chicago area as I started work with Baptist Hospital in Pensacola.
Three years went by and I was asked to speak to a group of employees at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a trauma hospital on the south side of Chicago.
Thinking of Brian when I returned to Chicago, I called the Fitzpatrick home. Mike answered the phone, and I shared I was in the area to speak to employees from Christ Hospital.
“That’s where Brian was taken,” Mike said.
His wife Kathy overheard that I would be going there.
“Thank them for us,” she said. “They were so kind to us.”
Even in the worst moments of her life, being at a hospital while losing a son, she noticed how kind the staff was to her and her family.
She didn’t call, she didn’t write a note. It wasn’t because she didn’t want to, it’s just that life creates times that cause that call to go unmade, the note to go unwritten or that thank you unconveyed.
But remember, you can’t underestimate the difference you can make.
The next day, I shared this story with the Christ Hospital employees. I explained how they had taken care of my nephew and thanked them on behalf of Mike and Kathy Fitzpatrick for being so kind. I spoke for about an hour and flew back to my job at Baptist.
A few weeks go by and I receive a note from a Christ Hospital nurse.
“I heard you speak a few weeks ago,” she wrote. “I work in the Emergency department at Christ Hospital. I was the one who took care of Brian. I was with the family at the end. I want you to know that not a Christmas goes by that I don’t think of Brian and his family.”
This nurse did not perform that Christmas Eve in hopes of recognition. She did it because her values wouldn’t allow anything else. She would have never known the impact she had on the Fitzpatrick family, years after Brian’s death, if I had not coincidentally spoken at her workplace.
There are times when a person makes a positive impact, and for many reasons does not know the entirety of their action.
Many people do good things no one will ever see or know about. We have all heard the message, “Do something positive for someone and don’t let anyone know.” However, it sure is nice to let someone know the difference they make.
Take time to make that call, send that note or share face-to-face why they are making or have made a difference in your life.
Yes, there are those times in which people make monumental differences. However, don’t let times, big or small, pass by without letting someone know they made a difference.
A person never knows when the acknowledgment will come at just the right time.
Quint Studer is the founder of the Studer Community Institute and a successful business leader, speaker and author. He is also the entrepreneur in residence at the University of West Florida.
See Quint Studer’s original PNJ articles HERE