He’s Thirty and He Works at Google: What We Do Matters

November 2017

Recently I was in my office with the door open getting ready for the morning’s first speech therapy client. As I was setting up for therapy, the office manager came by with a group of providers from another medical clinic touring our beautiful recently built suite. The visitors looked in my little therapy room/office and made some polite comments then went back out the door following their guide. Then, a few seconds later, one of them, a woman, poked her head back in my door. “I know you don’t remember me,” she said, “but I just wanted to tell you that you worked with my son when he was in first grade. No one could understand his speech. He sounded like Elmer Fudd when we came to you. You did great work with him (and she paused)…and now he’s thirty and works at Google.”

It’s good to be reminded now and then that what we do makes a difference in lives, in families, and yes, for the future.

In the moment, in the rush of the day, we are so often caught in the trap of small irritants and issues: third party payers, occasional difficult clients, the hoops and barriers that we have to jump through and around. And in the moment, during a particular speech therapy visit, it might not seem like we are making progress. In fact, sometimes it seems like we are going backwards. Somehow we have to believe that we are making a difference. Perhaps the payoff will come soon. The parent may say, “You know, his grandmother called on the phone last night and for the first time, she could understand what he was saying.” Or perhaps the payoff will come later, when you get invited to a bar mitzvah ceremony where your former client has a long Torah portion to read and he does it perfectly. Or, perhaps, the payoff may not come at all in this life. That’s when we have to trust that what we are doing, what we have done, this gift we have received, has made a difference in someone’s life.

To my friends and former graduate students in school-based settings. Some of your students slept in the family car last night. Some are on free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs and that is the most and best food they will get all day. Your office and your smile may be the highlight of their day and the most positive and consistent thing they encounter. Thank you for doing that in the face of unending paper work and teachers that don’t “get it” and IEP meetings that can go south at any moment.

To my colleagues in medical settings. A touch or word from you to family members may make a dent in very hard times as their loved one faces severe challenges. A clear explanation without “doctorese” delivered from your heart and with vulnerability will make a difference. Thank you.

And to those of you at universities charged with bringing up the next generation of clinicians. It may not feel like it, but you are in the business of inspiration. Thank you for teaching with passion day in and day out while dealing with your own stuff, with traffic and family life and university politics and the pressure of tenure and research and writing and aging parents and on and on. Thank you for daring to show that side of you to your students and thank you for impacting the generation that will follow us.

We all have an impact. We have a huge impact.

With love from Glenn

© 2017 Glenn Weybright. All rights reserved.

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