It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day. Today’s firefighting. Major technical issue. This client screaming at you for yet another delayed shipment. That colleague throwing a fit because she wanted to take a vacation in September and your ship date is on September 30th and oh my god she’s really pissed off.
You’ll solve the immediate issue at hand. Of course you will - I have no doubt. Every hot tactical issue gets solved. Look back upon your past year – you’ll remember all those late nights, and you’ll see that it all worked out in the end.
Now look back 5 or 10 years ago. And try to remember the firefighting you did then.
What, having a hard time?.. The tactical stuff doesn’t float up in memory easily? What does come up?..
The people. The feelings. The relationships.
Hmmm, interesting. I wonder what that means.
Fine, fine, I am a demeaning bastard. Give me a break, I just scored a free cocktail from a flight attendant.
What it means is that the only thing that matters in the long run is the people. You’ll forget the tactical firefighting. You’ll forget the problems you were working on. You’ll forget the problems, the technology, the contract terms, the programming language, the price you quoted, the vendor you hired…
The only thing you’ll remember are what you felt, who was by your side, who fell apart, and who really made sure everyone made it through.
You’ll keep that memory with you for the rest of your life – and so will the others that were next to you. When you are in need, the people that will help you will be those that have fond memories of you – it’s just as simple as that.
The only thing that matters is people. Invest in people around you. Make sure you comfort them in need. Motivate them when the tough times come and they need to work around the clock.
In the long run, it doesn’t matter how brilliant you are. If you’re an ass, you’ll end up nowhere (in our field, a particular section of nowhere is reserved for the arrogant asses). If you invest into people around you, they will cover for your misjudgements; they will forgive your stupidity; they will pay you back a hundredfold.
Go ahead and smile to the person next to you. Make them feel appreciated. Invest in them, make them better off. You’ll make a world a better place today – and you’ll be so much better off yourself tomorrow.
Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them again on your way down.