Facing a crisis often demands difficult and gut-wrenching decisions, and I can personally attest to that.
This week marks the 5th anniversary of my father’s passing, and the most difficult decision I’ve had to make as a professional. We were in the midst of a National Convention in 2016, on day 3 of the 4 day marathon, after months of long days preparing for the crazed national attention that comes with a convention. Tens of thousands of people flocked to the convention from across the country and the world, and our comms team was stretched thin handling thousands of media, hundreds of surrogates, and working to book as many interviews as possible in a 96 hour period.
And then I get a phone call. My dad’s health had been in decline for several years, and we had several scares in the past, but the tone in this call was different.
He was going into emergency surgery, and his chances of survival were low.
And he didn’t want me to leave.
Every ounce of my being wanted to get in the car and drive the nearly 500 miles home, but he didn’t want me to go. He wanted me to finish what I had moved there to do. He wanted me to fulfill my role, be an asset to my team, and complete my commitment to my colleagues.
While most of that day was a blur, partially due to the shock of it all and partially because of the sleep deprivation that comes with working a convention, I remember having several phone calls with different family members who all said the same thing: stay there and get the job done, what will happen will happen, and nothing I do could change it.
So I stayed. I worked as hard as I could to honor what I thought would be my dad’s final wishes, and it was the right choice.
We were blessed that he survived the surgery, though other health complications remained that led to his passing two weeks later. I was able to finish my commitment to my team, and am so thankful that I was able to be there by his side for those final two weeks.
My father was the hardest working person I ever knew. As a physician, it wasn’t uncommon for him to work 16-18 hour days, seeing patients at his practice and doing rounds to those of his patients admitted to the hospital afterward. As gut wrenching as that experience was, I felt like I could channel his energy for those final days, and honor him in my own way.
At the end of this long diatribe, the lesson I hope to impart is this (apologies for the cliche): the right choice is often not the easy one, and relying on those around you helps make that decision clear despite your own emotional reaction. My entire family made it clear that I needed to stay and finish my job, and my team (shoutout Kirsten!) was incredibly understanding and willing to cover for me regardless of what I chose to do. With a team as supportive as that, I knew I couldn’t let them down.
In times of crisis, lean on those around you, and they will help get you back on your feet to get the job done.