It’s the little things, really. Those are the ones that make all the difference in the world. It’s not the huge, over-the-top, career advancing things that people remember, unless you’re like a Nobel prize winner or such. It’s the day-to-day interactions with people that make the difference.
A good friend posted a note on Facebook recently, which made me really think about this subject. It wasn’t anything big. It was a simple note that a mutual friend had given her many years ago. It was a seemingly meaningless gesture in the grand scheme of things, but to this person, it made a huge difference in her life. It was profound to her, for some reason, and I think that’s fantastic.
I worked many years in a job that I loved and hated at the same time. There were days that I thought I would never walk back in the door again, because I would simply run away to a foreign country, never to be seen again. I didn’t run away, but I certainly thought about it. I know that I’ve written about this topic before, concerning a certain postal employee who gave me the strength to get through a really tough day. During those trying times at that job and for that employer, especially in the last year or so of my tenure there, I fought feelings of regret, sadness, depression, anxiousness and anxiety, frustration, heartache, and let-down disappointment every single day. Why? Because there were so many new people concerned only about (in my opinion anyway) the BBD – bigger better deal – that was the next step in the rung of their own success. I didn’t see my “success” as being something “I” accomplished. I saw it as something that was accomplished as a team effort – on the whole, for the greater good, at the time and cost that was acceptable, and certainly something that impacted a smaller amount of people than a larger one. Not that those lofty goals are not something for which to strive for. Not at all. I just didn’t see it that way. I still don’t.
I worked there for about 15 years. In that whole time, my team and I accomplished great things together. We had some really great leaders, some most-excellent staff members, and some really good customers. We also had some of each that were terrible. I said it, yes. They were terrible. Some of them are still, amazingly, employed there, and some of them have even more amazingly been promoted to yet a higher rung on the ladder. Those of in the trenches, in a department that was always misunderstood as a man of much higher rank than any of them could ever be once said, we were the ones who got it done. Day in and day out, we went in on weekends, got called in the middle of the night, abided by their seemingly idiotic policies that weren’t even related to our jobs (i.e., Snow Day work requirements, so that the others wouldn’t get their feelings hurt). We took it on the chin all the time, having to keep up a schedule that was insanely developed, just so that the BBDers could jump on our backs and claim they did it on time!! Just another feather in their cap, not ours, as we were doing what needed to be done.
The little things? Seeing a smile on a kids face when you turn the corner and he sees the mural you commissioned and hears the birds chirping. Seeing a parent relieved to have a nice fold out bed to sleep in, instead of that hideously uncomfortable creation – the Chairbed. Hearing a newborn preemie’s very small cry the first day that the NICU is opened and has admitted patients. Seeing the tree go up on the topping out ceremony, and seeing the pride in the construction worker’s eyes, knowing that he understands the impact his work made on someone’s family. Giving someone directions when they are lost. Buying an employee a Coke because she’s having a bad day. Having someone thank you and tell you to go home to your sweet husband. Or, in the case of my friend, a small token of thankfulness through a note stuck to a small pot of flowers.
It’s not about the showy, over the top, BBD accomplishments. It’s about the every day life. It’s about the lives you impact. It’s about the friendships you make. It’s about the ability to go to sleep at night knowing that you’ve done some good that day, even in a small small way.
In the end, I would rather my obit to say that I lived and loved life, traveled and was exposed to many other cultures, had friends all over the world, was a good wife and mom, loved my dogs (and had a love-hate relationship with cats), and that I was a nice person, rather than for it to list out all of my business accomplishments. For the BBDers, those always seem to leave out the bodies they left behind, in the dust, on their way to accomplishing what they believed to be “great things”.