We work our butts off, and do everything we can for business success. Many times it feels like I’m so tied up in it that there’s nothing else.

Then something comes up that makes me realize there are more important things.

My mother died recently, so of course there a lot of logistical things to take care. But more important are the relationships I’m reconnecting, all over the world. And it’s fascinating to see how my friends and colleagues support me, even though they never met her.

I noticed many years ago that there was a magic phrase. When you uttered the phrase, everyone instantly gave you all the slack, support and space you needed.

“Family emergency.”

Yes, I know it’s become a bit of a joke: “Haven’t you attended your grandmother’s funeral five times now?” But in my experience, people rarely abuse the privilege.

What’s happening is that people are connecting to their human side. You’re not just an employee or colleague or partner, you’re now someone with deep needs and feelings and a life beyond their work.

It’s not just the manager-employee relationship either. It’s the universal reordering of priorities.

I have a partner on the East Coast who I had trouble connecting with. She stopped answering voicemail and emails, and I was starting to wonder if I’d done something wrong.

No, I found out her child was dealing with a sudden illness.

All of a sudden my perspective changed. I’ll give her all the time and space she needs to attend to her family – the best help I can be.

Because it’s the human thing to do.

This was first published in InnovatioNews.