5 Important Life Lessons I Learned from the Co-worker Sitting Across From Me

November 17, 2015
Rachel Rieger

Rachel Rieger is the Community Outreach Manager at LeafFilter North, Inc. She typically writes about home improvement techniques, but also has a deep interest in health and wellness.

I walked in to work on a Monday morning, grumbling about getting up so early and begging for a caffeine boost. Deb looked across her desk and smiled at me.

“Good morning!” she chimed brightly. All I could muster in response was a wave and a weak smile. I plopped down at my desk and got to work.

Later that week, my boss asked me to reach out to my fellow co-workers and see if anyone or their loved ones had personally had breast cancer.

You see, we sponsor an XFINITY NASCAR team, and wanted to honor them by featuring their names on the racecar for the month of October. After reaching out to my colleagues, I found more than names – I found inspiration.

Unbeknownst to me, Deb had faced breast cancer, not once, but twice! After her relentless fight, she set out to raise awareness and founded the Pony Express Tour, composed of survivors who traveled the United States on their motorcycles.

After two tours and raising over a million dollars to support awareness efforts, she decided to, in her own words, “support people and share tears and fears on the quieter side.”

By simply sharing her story with all of us, she became so much more than the co-worker sitting across the office. She became inspiration. Personally, I learned five important life lessons from Deb. share on twitter Maybe you’ll learn a little from Deb as well.

  1. You never know until you ask.

    There’s an old saying that the worst you’re going to hear is, “no.” And it’s spot-on!

     I didn’t get any “no’s” from my quick e-mail. I got names of fearless warriors, moving stories, and a new friend in Deb.

    The lesson here? Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to your co-worker, neighbor, or the stranger sitting across from you on the train. You never know what you’ll miss out on if you don’t ask!

  2. Don’t wait for something to happen, take action yourself!

    After breast cancer, Deb wasn’t content with the state of breast cancer awareness and decided to do something about it. She found even more strength and motivation and directly helped other people in the midst of their own battles.

    Sitting back and waiting for someone else to take action isn’t going to bring about change. Deb has inspired me to stop complaining and instead take action to see results. share on twitter 

  3. It is possible to regain a “new normal”.

    Deb comes to work every day just like the rest of us, chats about fun adventures with her family, and is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met.

    I didn’t know Deb before her journey with breast cancer, so I can’t speak to her life before cancer. I can tell you that looking at Deb, I’d never have guessed all she went through.

    This “new normal” took time and a lot of support. Deb is all the evidence I need to know that it is more than possible to find a new groove. share on twitter

  4.  Positivity is contagious!

    This one probably speaks for itself, but it is so true! The attitude shift in our office was palpable after Deb told her story – we were all more grateful, and went about our days with a new, positive outlook.

  5. A little perspective will make your problems seem small.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still hate Mondays, but they don’t seem quite as bad now.

    These days, I think twice before complaining about the trivial stuff. I also listen intently when others come to me with their problems.

I’ll leave you with a quote that now makes me think of Deb: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

We’d love to know who has inspired you the most! What have they taught you? Leave a comment below!

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