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Deserved recognition for someone I frequently take for granted.

It can be rare to receive -or more importantly give- meaningful recognition for the important work being done.

As we race to our next activity or task, we hurry right past the individuals providing worthy services directly in front of us. Rarely do we pause and thank the airport janitor for the clean bathroom, the cashier for taking the order, the hotel clerk for working the night shift.

By contrast, through a lot of grace, a ton of help from others and a bit of luck, I’ve stumbled into a profession where I am thanked almost continuously for the work I’ve done. Fancy dinners. Standing ovations. My name printed in brochures. Long lines with hugs and handshakes. Even handwritten thank you notes received after events. The feedback from individuals fills me with purpose and brings joy to my life.

And yet, while I’m out of town speaking, being recognized and having my bucket filled, who is taking care of my kids? While I’m at those dinners with the forks on the left and the knives on the right, who is the one doing the exhausting and thankless work of getting meals ready and cleaned up at home? When I check into my hotel and get myself unpacked, who is driving my kids to their practices, checking homework, cleaning the clothes, wrapping up a long day and preparing for another?

My amazing wife tirelessly and selflessly does so much. And because the kids and I are so close to her, we are at risk of taking her for granted.

Which is why what occurred last Thursday was particularly meaningful for me. And her.

More than a year ago our organization booked a presentation with the American Occupational Therapy Association. We were excited because of the incredible work OTs and COTAs do in our health care and school systems.

We were excited because of the work my amazing OTs did for me decades ago to empower me to feed myself, dress myself and become self-sufficient.

And we were excited because one of the members of this organization and attendees at the conference would be my favorite OT: my wife, who in addition to serving as a mom to four busy kids has also spent more than 15 years working as an Occupational Therapist.

Near the end of the presentation, I showed the audience a picture of my wife and me from the day we got married. Then I shared that even as a little boy recovering from burns, I knew one day I’d find love. I didn’t know she’d be so pretty, but I knew before even meeting her that she’d possess a heart to see beauty where other women might only see brokenness.

And then I shared that she was with us in the venue that day not only because she’s my wife, but because she is an Occupational Therapist.

With that, 7,000 awesome OTs stood and cheered for one of their own with boisterous applause.

Beth stood, smiled humbly and waved at her colleagues.

I’ve received numerous rousing ovations in my career. Some in small venues, others in large stadiums. None touched my heart and brought more joy, however, than the one I witnessed for her.

My friends, we all benefit from receiving accolades for the work we do and the lives we live. We all clamor to know that we matter and make a difference.

Today, rather than waiting to be recognized for something we’ve done well, let’s strive to seek opportunities to acknowledge and encourage someone else.

That simple act of being seen and appreciated is certain to elevate their day. And in observing their reaction, it will positively change your day, too.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

17 replies on “My Favorite Standing Ovation”

Major deposit in the relationship bucket John! Husbands everywhere salute you, including me, and like me I am sure are slightly jealous that you had the opportunity for such a public display of the love and respect you have for Beth! Way to go sir!

It is certainly refreshing to hear someone offer up well deserved accolades for their spouse. I know yours are truly heartfelt solely because I had the great opportunity to meet you and hear you speak to our Vistage peers business group a handful of years back in the Kansas City area. Since that time, I remember reaching out to you for advice more on a personal level and you offered kind words of encouragement. ThankYou for being a truly encouraging and insightful personality.

What a wonderful and inspirational story. I’m not the most religious person you’ll meet, but I am reminded of Christ’s admonition: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

There is no better way to show that love for someone you care so deeply about than to profess it as publicly as you can, showing the world the innate greatness encapsulated by that person, while showing that person that you see and appreciate their greatness every day.

Well done John.

I hope one day to meet you and your wife and give you the biggest HUG 🤗 for how you show up – walk through life – reach out and look up – and make everyone’s day a bit brighter with your Grit and Grace! I love your books, your blogs, podcast, your tshirts and book and all things O’Leary! Thank YOU both.

Love this! Love how you continue to acknowledge what Beth does for your family. You inspired me to do the same for my wife when I read in your book “In Awe” the journal you kept for Beth to acknowlege what she did each day to serve your family. I started doing this for my wife this past December and will like you present it to her at Christmas. I have not missed a day of journaling. You have inspired me once again and I will keep journaling.

After recently meeting your wife Beth, I can attest to the fact that she is a woman full of joy, serving others, including me, with a beautiful smile and kind heart. You are one blessed man John. Meeting Beth, I clearly see how God answered your prayers, giving you far MORE than you could ever ask or imagine. She is your MORE!

As my dad might say, “Think you outkicked your coverage!” Seriously, she’s a lucky girl!

True, true, true, John! I’ve said the same thing about my best friend, life partner and wife! She always had the tougher job in our household with three active kids to care for everyday. I tried (and continue) to try to help with chores around the house but my work consumed most of my days and many an evening so it fell to Jane. The true blessing of my life. I love your story and congratulations again, Beth!

I am sure that standing ovation brought you more joy than the ones you receive personally. Thank you for sharing this John, as I need the reminder to publicly thank the person that does more for me than anyone else…my wife, Linda.

John – as an OT Who has followed you for the last 10 or so years, thank you for bringing Beth to the stage last week. I was there. You have expressed what many of us have been striving for, to be seen, to be heard, and to be respected as the healthcare and educational professionals that we are.
Because we see beauty and brokenness, we see strength and adversity, and we see endless possibility, OT is often thought of as the “optimistic”profession. Our colleagues in the medical community tend to dismiss this approach to health care, yet third-party payers recognize that occupational activities as outcomes are much more meaningful than just moving an arm or lifting a leg. Please continue to post about the value of OT and the unique knowledge that we possess as healthcare practitioners. I live inspired partly due to you AND Beth.

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