We all have those times in our lives when we feel like standing still for a moment to think about the meaning of it all. Why are we here? What have we achieved so far? Are we happy? How many things have we checked off our bucket list, and why does time seem to go faster as we grow older?
I will be turning 50 next year and my bucket list is still the size of a dictionary. I want to play in a band again, visit at least twelve more countries, become fluent in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Greek – just for the heck of it. I want to publish a book, be a granddad someday and, first of all, stay healthy and die young at an extremely old age, if you see what I mean.
One item I crossed off my list already a long time ago is finding a good job in a great place to work. I came into Cisco about a decade ago as part of the Scientific Atlanta acquisition. I love science, technology and people. I love my job and my colleagues – some of whom I have known for more than twenty years. I love my life at Cisco.
Still we all have those moments in our lives when we need a little pushing. In the spring of 2014, my father-in-law was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. After a hard and courageous struggle that lasted almost three years, he finally let go. He was 78, and he had worked hard until his late sixties. He was far from a technology expert, but he was an excellent salesman and most of all my best friend. He was a granddad, too, and he traveled to more countries in his life than I probably ever will. Even though quite a few things on his bucket list were left undone, I like to believe he died a satisfied man – only a couple of years too soon.
The process of losing a loved one, unfortunately, is something we all have to cope with more than once in our lives. And while Cisco encourages their employees to celebrate the good times, milestones, and achievements – it’s nice to know that we can rely on their full support when things go south for a while too. Dealing with grief is never easy and the number of other things you need to take care of when someone dies is just unbelievable. That being said, I was just as overwhelmed by the sympathy and support of my manager, my team, and many others at Cisco provided in that time.
There are many different reasons why I love where I work, but the team spirit, energy, and kindness of the people around me here at Cisco are all truly amazing. When I returned to the office from a couple of days’ much needed bereavement leave, I was called into my manager’s office. At my father-in-law’s express request, we had included a line on his death notice kindly asking people not to send flowers or wreaths, but to donate a little money to the Flemish Cancer Foundation instead. My manager gave me an envelope with over 250 euro that he and my teammates had collected while I was out.
Deeply touched by their sympathy, my wife and I transferred the money to the Foundation that night. Giving back had never been so heartfelt.
I have a new item on top of my bucket list now, right next to “Stay Healthy”. I call it “Life Is Good, Live It Well”. I will try to check it off every day.
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