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Friday, December 13, 2013

Making the Best of the Way Things Work Out...

Stan Van Gundy...
Legendary football coach John Wooden once said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”  

Of course, making the best of the way things turn out is not always easy, especially, when those things hurt the people we love.

This has been a very rough week for me.

On Monday, I got back from vacation, and, while driving to work, I received a call from my boss, who I consider a friend and, although, several years younger than me, my mentor for the past 17 years.  He asked me to meet him for some coffee at an Einstein's Bagels near the office.

Right away, I knew something was up, otherwise it could have waited until we got to work. 

Thoughts started racing through my head, knowing the stress he had endured over the past couple of years.  After 15 years of dominating the local news landscape in South Florida, a great run by any standard, management decided to change our news direction and style to adjust to an ever-evolving, faster-pace, more competitive marketplace, where TV news is giving way to the instant gratification of social media, internet and cable, and people's attention spans, lifestyles and viewing habits have adjusted accordingly. 

After ordering coffee and bagels, he cut to the chase and told me, with a knot in his throat, that he was pulling a former Heat Coach Stan Van Gundy (my words not his) and had resigned.  In fact, he was considering leaving the TV news industry altogether.   

At the risk of sounding like the "I love you man" in the old Bud Light commercial, I'll admit, my eyes watered.  He is the biggest reason I have enjoyed working in our newsroom for so long and why I never even considered pursuing other options.  I had told him that in the past but when I repeated it that morning, as my voice cracked, it came across more poignantly and we both choked up, and just as  quickly started laughing, as we looked around wondering what people at other tables were thinking about the two fat guys crying over coffee.

It was tough.  He had been with the station for twenty-three years.  That's about half his life!  Twenty-three years of missing his kids' games, activities, homework and growing up (his oldest two are now in college), holidays at work instead of with family, hurricanes and long hours spent at the office during breaking news, elections and live specials, constant stress and worrying about stories, budgets, planning, schedules and dealing with employees' egos, idiosyncrasies and personal problems (always handled with grace and a great sense of humor), and it all came crashing to a halt, a few weeks before Christmas. 

He said he wanted to tell me before making an announcement later that afternoon in the newsroom, which caught our entire staff by surprise and left many people in tears.  As one co-worker wrote in a piece of paper she handed me after the announcement, "And now what?"

To many of us, he was more than our leader.  He was our friend and part of our work family (which we often spend more time with then our real families).  If I were to best describe him, I would say he is, above all, loyal, big-hearted, fair and professional, to the point that he decided to resign but hang around for two more weeks to say goodbye to his team, despite how painful it is for him.

During this week of constant phone calls, visits from well wishers, not only on our staff but from other departments, competitors and friends from across the country, and clearing his belongings, he  took time to give us advice on some of the pressing decisions we will need to make in the upcoming weeks without him; a true class act.

If there is a takeaway from all this, which I had learned many years ago after resigning at a previous company and, despite feeling I was carrying the workload at the time, realized they were able to carry on without me (go figure!), it is that jobs may come and go but family lasts forever.  As of that point, I have tried to approach my life with that in mind (Although, please, don't ask my wife, if that's the case!).

Fortunately, for my boss, he has an amazing and loving wife, kids and extended family to support him (not to mention those of us he leaves behind at the station) and he is a man of faith, who knows God has a plan for him and will get him through this, even though it won't be easy. 

At the end of the day, things worked out for Van Gundy, who was hired by the Orlando Magic shortly after leaving the Heat, and I'm certain they will work out for my friend as well.

As I responded in the email that was sent to announce his resignation, we may never be the same without him because he leaves a huge imprint in all of our hearts as leader and, most of all, as a man, but there is no loss worth lamenting that doesn’t inevitably bring victory in the end...


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