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The ultimate self-esteem booster

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It’s about 5.30 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

I’ve just started talking to a potential new client at a networking event. As a waiter glides past, I reach across to lift a glass from the tray.

He: Oh dear, what did you do to your arm?
Me: Excuse me for reaching across. Sorry, what did you ask?
He: Your arm. Why is it bandaged? Looks nasty.
Me: Oh, that. No, actually I saved three lives today.
He: (sputtering good wine) You did what? You’re kidding! How?
Me: I gave blood.

He: (full of awe and admiration)Three lives? Really? Wow. I didn’t know that’s what one blood donation could do. That’s pretty special.

It’s National Blood Donor Week and something very special for me was to see my husband recognised for his 100 donations to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service at the organisation’s annual Thank You Morning Tea, celebrating the gift of life-giving, life-sustaining blood products.

In Australia, whole blood, plasma and platelet donations are exactly that: voluntary, unpaid gifts. But for an hour of your time and a pouch of liquid gold, you get soooo much more in return.

Some progressive businesses even encourage their staff to donate by inviting a mobile blood van onsite or not docking your pay for the short time you might spend one morning every three months in a Red Cross chair instead of your office one.

Here’s how it works as the ultimate self-esteem booster.

From the moment you enter the donation centre, you’re greeted with smiles and thank yous. If you’ve had a particularly bad week at work or home, you start to perk up because, finally, SOMEBODY appreciates you.

You complete the forms, sip on cordial, and maybe munch on a fully justifiable sugary or salty treat as you wait for your name to be called.

You flip through the brochures and newsletters reading about the wonderful outcomes for sick people that blood like yours has made possible (maybe even yours from your last donation!).

Mothers, babies, children, dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas. Their grateful faces beam off the page and straight into your heart. The warm and fuzzies are buzzing.

The nurse who collects you for the finger prick and blood pressure measure gives you another big, genuine smile and bouquet of grateful words. Then you’re led to your donation chair and yet another nurse greets you with thanks and a smile.

You’re about to have a needle shoved in your inner elbow but you feel like a superstar.

Soon you’re back in the reception area enjoying a drink and another guilt-free snack. You feel fantastic and light-hearted (and possibly just a little light-headed, but that’s why you wait a bit before you go back to work).

Imagine if your boss could see how super-productive you can be whilst reclining in a comfy chair just rolling a ball of foam in your hand. Saving three lives, remember.

So, you’ve been appreciated, fed, and hydrated. What you probably won’t realise is that you’re also walking straighter, taller and with confidence. You’re sharing the smiles, too.

When you return to work, people notice you. They ask you about your bandaged arm and when you tell them, you become their hero. Because everyone has at least one relative or friend who’s needed a blood donation at some time – it might have been because of a horrible car accident, or cancer, or another illness.

If you’re a boss who’s looking for ways to help your employees with their self-esteem or show them you care about what they do, think about supporting blood donations.

And if you’re an employee who doesn’t have a boss who will support this community service, do it anyway – most blood banks are open on weekends and after hours a few nights a week.

In holiday periods, blood stocks can drop due to high demand and regular donors going away. If you’re preparing for the September school holidays, perhaps put a blood donation on your To Do list?

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