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  • Writer's pictureMark Jamroz

Business Lessons from My Daughter with Down Syndrome.

Lesson #1: Don’t be a work jerk.

Let me start with an apology to the people I have worked with. I was a work jerk. Those of you who know me, who have worked with me earlier in my career, know what I’m talking about. I have learned. I have changed. I apologize. I really do.

What is a work jerk?

A work jerk thinks that the only thing that matters is “the work.” A work jerk thinks that as long as the client is happy, that’s all that matters. A work jerk thinks that you can be a jerk as long as your work is good. A work jerk might have their heart in the right place, but they just don’t realize one important thing: work is more about people and less about work.

So what is the lesson? Prioritize people.

My daughter has taught me that the first job of every job we have is to be a decent human being. It doesn’t hurt to be nice. It’s the first thing we should do every morning. I have noticed when I do, it actually makes the work easier. The truth is, we don’t have to be. We can still be a jerk and get the work done, but who would you rather work with?

The most important thing in my daughter’s life is seeing me when I come home from work, sharing smiles and hugs and kisses. She doesn’t ask how was your day? or inquire about the politics of the office or the status of a project.

When she meets a stranger, she doesn’t wonder what they do for a living. She wonders what kind of person they are. She taught me that. Once when we were in a park downtown she hugged a homeless man who was begging for spare change. Even he didn’t know what to say after that happened.

Just because I’m writing this doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect. I’m a recovering work jerk. I’d like to say I’m 98.9% jerk-free, but I still catch myself putting the work first, and forgetting about the people that are doing it. This article is my reminder to me to put people first. I have found my day is a little better when I do. I hope it does the same for you. Have a positive week. Let me know how it goes.

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