Trying hard enough?

This morning I am in an airport preparing to fly halfway across the country.  The airport, destination, and airline does not matter because what I observed this morning is something to which I believe most can relate outside of air travel.  After I made my way through the parking, luggage check, and security checkpoint, I prepared to sit down and check my email and maybe write a bit of code while I wait to board.

When I sat down adjacent to one of the gate desks looking for a power outlet, I noticed a uniformed individual who was working at the desk or perhaps should have been working.  This individual was talking on a cell phone.  A few things struck me as I noticed him.  First off was his posture.  He was leaning on the side of the counter in full view of any passerby.  He was on a cell phone as opposed to one of the desk phones.  And finally one did not have to be close to him to get the impression that this was a personal call parts of which were spoken in a language other than English.  I would not characterize what I observed as professional and consistent with what I assume this airline expects from their employees.

At first I thought nothing of it.  Perhaps I was preoccupied with finding a power outlet.  It could be that I have witnessed this by those who serve the public a good bit and I have accepted it.  It's also possible it just took a few minutes for my impression to form and for me to ponder the consequences for him as well as the rest of us.

I wondered a good bit about the effort each of us puts forth on any given day at any given point in the day.  It's certainly not fair for me to judge this particular individual based on one brief observation.  [If I had to guess I would say the phone call lasted for fifteen minutes or so.]

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that there are many factors which can impact our effort and performance.  It's possible that this individual just received some bad news about the health of a loved one.  It's also possible he just learned about a major unexpected personal financial crisis.  Then again it's possible that I observed the "effort" he puts forth for the better part of the day and is comfortable earning his pay in that manner.

Knowing the truth about this particular individual does not matter but I would like to believe it was an exception for a good reason.  What does matter is that his behavior got me to ask this question once again.  Or perhaps it's a series of questions: Am I trying hard enough?  Am I encouraging or discouraging to those around me when it comes to effort?  Who are the examples we look to for such examples in our families, organizations, communities, countries, and world?

In my opinion, it's not a bad idea to ask this question of ourselves ever now and then.  Such prompting is good.  How we answer the question is probably a pretty good indicator of our core values.
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