Open doors, open hearts

What is your open door policy?

Lou loves summer with the much-needed down time as well the extended daylight hours to play. An interesting thing happened on a recent walk. One night as we were rounding a corner and heading down our street, Louie hesitated when I said, “Let’s go home.” He knows what that means and usually prances because home is his happy place. But this time he slinked toward home. As we passed our neighbors, he looked toward their doors and garages with a forlorn expression. Finally, as we approached our home, he paused and looked up and down the street. He whined as if to say, “Can anyone come out and play?” He was like a little boy who is not ready to call it quits on a hot summer night. I sent messages to my friends and asked, “Can your dogs come out to play?” But no luck. It was time to go in, Lou!

The next day, and every day since, he has decided that every open door or garage is an invitation for him to walk right in. And off he goes to call on a neighbor. He seems particularly interested in one neighbor, June, who doesn’t have a dog. Nonetheless, Lou believes her open garage door is an invitation for him to walk right in. Thank goodness June gladly welcomes Louie into her home. Other neighbors seem to love his visits as well, confirming his opinion that: “Everybody loves me!” He whines (loudly) when Claire’s door is open yet she is nowhere to be found. The same is true with his other four-legged friends. My neighbors don’t have to own dogs for Lou to believe he has an open invitation into their home…as long as the door is open.

I remember growing up on Cherevilla Lane where friends and family dropped in unannounced. My mom used to say, “You know who the really good friends are because they always come to the back door, knock, and then just walk in.” I remember as a child actually “calling” our friends as opposed to ringing the doorbell or knocking. We would stand on the porch and melodically sing their name, “Oh Tanya.” Then we would wait until someone answered the door (or yelled out that no one was home—Ha!). My friend Gina’s mom told me I had the sweetest little voice when I would call, “Oh Gina!” That certainly has changed! Like Louie, if we saw an open garage door, we considered it an invitation to walk in.

Welcoming people into our offices and homes is an essential skill for leaders. I can’t tell you how many times someone needed encouragement or prayer, and thankfully, my door was as open as was my heart. I’ve listened to coworkers and friends share about struggles, or victories, broken engagements and new jobs. We never know who is looking for an open door. I’ve heard a lot of noise lately that open door policies might not be good for organizations. But I say if it is coupled with an open heart, leaders can be life-changers.

Louie believes his visits are needed and with every open door, he sees an open heart and expects a loving pat on the head or perhaps a doggie treat. Otherwise, why would they leave their doors open, right Lou?

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