There are few, if any, people in the world like my rabbi, teacher and friend, Rabbi Ahron Batt (may his memory be a blessing). This past Friday, Rabbi Batt passed away in the presence of his beloved wife, Ayelet, and his wonderful children. To my way of thinking, one’s true value in life can be measured by what one has left behind. Rabbi Batt’s legacy - his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - all stand as a testament to the truly remarkable gift he left to humanity. Rabbi Batt was a man of amazing humility, compassion, knowledge and joie de’vive that made him the rare combination of wonderful. He has left an entire nation at a loss with his death.
Full disclosure: This is not a religious post. I do not intend to change your religious views in any way, but I will talk about religion and God. If that offends you, I am sorry.
What does any of this have to do with documentation management? I promise I’ll get to that in just a few more lines…
One of the things I loved about Rabbi Batt was his warmth and ability to make anyone feel comfortable in his presence. Though he held a PhD and rabbinical ordination and learned with the very top minds of his generation in both the secular and religious worlds, he would introduce himself simply as “Ahron” or “Ahron Batt”. He was truly a man on a mission to make everyone feel welcome and at ease. For Rabbi Batt, meeting someone new and learning about them and from them was a holy event. He took the Kabbalistic concept that each person is equal to an entire universe and lived it with sincerity and vigor. Although in my life I will probably be lucky to learn but a few percentage points of the total knowledge he amassed in his, I never once felt intimidated, uneducated or demeaned. Instead, he inspired in me (and in every person I know who knew him) a love of learning, of seeking out new opportunities and avenues to acquire knowledge. Of loving and helping our fellow man with a joyful heart and a compassionate approach. Of living a happy and fulfilled life no matter what obstacles appeared along the way. His kind smile, contagious laugh and delicate, thoughtful approach to every situation, question or challenge left a permanent mark on me and all who knew him.
Many years ago, when I was a wandering 19-year-old who had just moved across the world (on my own), Rabbi Batt said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “Do something in life that will make your heart sing. If you are true to yourself, everything else will fall into place. God wants you to be happy and live a fulfilled life.” And that is what Rabbi Batt did. I never saw someone more happy and content with his lot in life. Wealth, power, prestige and recognition were all things he clearly “deserved” (if there is such a thing), but I never once saw any signs that any of that meant anything to him. He clearly knew that those things would not make him happy or leave him with any sense of fulfillment.
That brings me back to technical writing and doc management. Does technical writing make my heart sing? Does it make your heart sing? If you answered no, like I initially did, then how did we get so lost along the path to happiness and heart-singing joy that we spent the last however many years in a field or a job that doesn’t rock our world?
For me, I have always said that it is not the purely technical writing side of my job that interests me, but the project management and human resources aspect that does. In the past three months, we have successfully placed five full-time technical writers into jobs, helped two new technical writers find their first projects and worked on countless releases for other customers with other staff. Does that make my heart sing? You betcha! There are 5 more families in the world able to put food on the table and pay their mortgages (YEAH!), a bunch of newbies whose careers have been launched and lots of new products that have gotten rave reviews because they have great documentation.
As a writer or manager (or both), you must figure out what makes your heart sing about this job and attack it with everything you’ve got. The same is true for your employees. Find the zone (and help your employees find theirs), motivator or whatever it is that will push you as a team and as an individual to achieve your goals and objectives. Remember that deadlines, no matter how insane and “deadly” they might seem, can always be pushed or manipulated around your life or the life of your teammates as the need arises. The relationships you form and the reputation you develop will see you through both your career and your life.
You can be remembered as the witch or the jerk who pushed everyone hard and only thought about the bottom line, or you can be the compassionate, human, open-minded, Rabbi Batt-like spirit that helped to grow new generations of employees and leaders, enabled projects to be successfully completed and helped your team members to have both employment success and happy home lives.
The truth is, I was just not ready to say goodbye. I have spent the better part of the last few days holding back tears (or actually crying) and kicking myself for not having spent more time with Rabbi Batt before he left this world. I hope and pray that he knew what a unique and important legacy he left for so many people from so many different walks of life; that he is granted a place in heaven based on his selfless contributions to humanity and his sincere goodness; and that I can be lucky enough to continue working in a job where my heart can sing and I am able to continue helping people.
Find your song and never stop singing it.
May the family of Rabbi Ahron Batt be comforted and may his memory always be a blessing.ShareThis