Our son was autistic. Tragically, we lost Ross a year and a half ago. He was a fun, loving boy that is dearly missed. Many of my writings will have stories or takeaways from living with a special needs child. It is and was truly amazing how one person could teach one so much about life, love and perspective. Leading with a hug is just one example. Ross was 19 when he passed and we had a lifetime of living with the system. Which system? The county, the school districts, the health care system, etc. All well meaning people that had an organization and process that they needed to attend to. The myriad of forms, applications and surveys were too many to count. There was one commonality among all. The forms needed to be completed. I got it! I understood. It was the order that I would change. Crazy Fred! Emotions are so significant heading into one of these meetings. What will the future be like? What services can we receive? How will Ross respond to these? And on and on and on! Starting the meeting at page one of form xyz just didn’t cut it. No way, no how. What we needed to start, was a hug. Really, a hug. I am not talking about an air hug or a nod of the head, I am talking about real life empathy. That is someone that says, I also get it! I understand how life is and how your desires and dreams still there. How the challenges and fatigue overwhelm and stay bottled up until the explode. This was difficult and when the meeting starts with the forms, the fireworks get lit and are ready to go. Amazing how a simple act of love and kindness go so far to diffuse the stress and allow us to absolutely get to, yes, page one. The teams we met with learned this about me quickly and the discussions became sincere and meaningful. The forms also got completed! Yeah! The same holds true in business. We are in the midst of career planning. Reviewing past performance and setting goals for the upcoming year. This would include looking forward to the future for many of our staff. While a great process that empowers are people, it still creates tremendous stress and anxiety. I have found that lets deal and reduce the stress, before the forms. How about even, leading with a hug? Ok, I can’t do that within the firm, at least all the time, but, the empathy of understanding, the willingness to recognize one’s anxiety when talking about their future and sharing humor and appreciation goes a long way of getting to the forms. Which of course, do get completed. Think about your next career planning, intense meeting or parent meeting at the school. Perhaps you can get all to, start with a hug?