My dad was in a hospital bed, gasping for the last few breaths he would experience on this earth. I watched him from a small distance, amazed by how unattached I felt to this body, this person, who had meant so much to me.
Then I saw his hands – those big, strong hands that had gestured from the pulpit with such passion; those hands that had held mine when I was a small girl crossing the street; those hands that had gripped a tennis racket with power and strength.
It was when I saw his hands that I began to cry. Months after he died, I was driving home from a graduate class I was taking across town. Suddenly, I wanted to hold his hand. The desire was so strong that it changed my perspective on the power of hands.
I pondered why hands were so important. My mother’s soft, small hands hold the same power. I’m sure that, someday when she is gone, I will miss those hands as well.
Hands are how we reach out to each other. They provide a physical connection that allows us to link together, no longer separate entities but one soul. Handshakes are how we let people know that their environment is safe. Waves are how we signal a fond hello or a mellow good-bye.
And, of course, we all know other hand gestures that convey a variety of feelings.
The fact is that hands show us the importance of reaching out, connecting, and sharing. More leaders should reach out to their employees, especially during times of change.
They should make an extra effort to shake hands in the hallway, pat people on the back, wave hello from their office, stack hands on an initiative. Distance is the song of dying relationships.
If you want to inspire your employees, you have to start by connecting with them. Start each day with a huddle and have people link arms or hold hands.
You can apply the same theory at home with the people you love. Connect with them more. And value the moment. You’ll miss those hands some day.