Tom knows a lot.  He seems to know more about technology, websites, program language and how to make it all work than anyone else I know.  His sentences spew an alphabet soup of acronyms.  He’s a consummate technologist.

Sitting around the table with Tom and his peers, it seemed even to my untrained ears that if his internal customers simply did what he said it would all turn out.  Tom wasn’t really being a know-it-all.  The company’s following the old path would surely usher in failure.   All seemed in agreement, yet something was off.

Then Tom told a story about how his wife brought home a movie that the whole family had been looking forward to watching.  He went into colorful detail about the amount of effort it took for her to find this popular DVD and how proud she was to have brought home “the prize.”  

Then the punchline: His wife had missed the point of all the technology at her disposal.  She hadn’t even brought a Blu-Ray disc, and Tom already had the Blu-Ray player synced up with the new big-screen TV, and there was something about pixel size and the extra money he had spent, and so forth.  

As he talked about how his wife “just didn’t get it,” the room got quiet.  Tom was the one who didn’t “get it. ” Everyone in the room knew how much he lacked appreciation, not only for his wife’s effort, but for theirs.

Fast forward a few months:  Tom told another story to the group, this time about how his son’s teacher told him that six-year-old Tom, Jr., talked a lot about how important his dad was to him and  how he wished his dad would spend more time with him.

When he told this story,  he wasn’t the critical, sarcastic Tom.  He told  about his son’s wish for more of his attention as though he really “got it” and how, reluctantly at first, he took his son to Lowe’s the Saturday after New Year’s and joined other children and parents in learning how to make a birdhouse.  They had such a great time, they decided to make building things together a regular occasion. They even started making YouTube videos of them working together.  

Tom, Jr., now has more time with Tom, Sr., who took the teacher’s input to the next level, included technology, and acknowledged his son’s complaint in a way that gave them both something more than they could have imagined.

And it’s recorded for the whole world to see.