I’ve been holding onto this post for awhile now. Partially because it’s a hard one to write, but mostly as I did not want the timing of it to come off as exploitative or self-serving, due to its nature. Last year was a tough year. For the first time, I saw the life of someone near and dear to me end extremely short. Not once, but twice. Sure, people close to me have passed away before, but after a good life - after raising children and getting to meet their grandchildren (and sometimes great grandchildren). Not in these cases. Each saw a tragic and sudden end of a life that had so much potential left. This isn’t intended to be sad, rather a reflection of how each loss made me slow down and take inventory of my own life. In this type of event, one cannot help but wonder how they’ll be remembered when their time comes, and whether or not they’ve focused on what’s really important in life.
Both personally and professionally, these events have pushed me to better evaluate how I can impact those around me in the most positive light. Some of these are rather cliché, but here is where I’ve chosen to make more of an effort:
Work harder to stay healthy. I won’t preach here, but just make smart, conscious decisions about your health. Don’t eat McD’s five times this week. It’s not healthy. Find healthy foods you enjoy, and make the decision to eat those instead. On top of that, make an effort to be more active. Go for a walk on your lunch break or take an evening stroll with your family rather than catching up on the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.
- Spend more time with loved ones. Pretty simple, make an effort to spend time with your family and friends. They’re the only people who matter. Life will get in the way often enough that you have to skip out on some outings. But when you get the chance, don’t make excuses. You won’t regret it and it will leave lasting memories for each of you.
- Get to know people better. This could mean going out for coffee with someone you've never met or building a relationship with someone you met last year and really enjoyed their company. I try to do both. I do it to help get to know them better, see what they're looking for in life and how I may be able to help.
If a friend of a friend is looking for a new job, meet them for coffee. If a student is struggling with where to go in life, share some wisdom from your own career - maybe you can offer guidance to help promote their next move.
Lastly, find something that is unrelated to your job or family, and volunteer to help. This is hard - it takes time from your already busy life, and can become a part-time job on its own. It will pay off in spades, and helps to put more funding into services that help families, animals, or fight diseases.
In all of these scenarios, you’re lending a helping hand to someone who needs it. Feel good about that. Who knows, you may be on the receiving end of the same kindness some day.
- In business, ABC (Always Be Closing) is bullshit. Sure, I get it: every interaction is an opportunity to make a sale. To me, this creates a world of fake people with insincere intentions. Stop doing it. Be genuine to those around you. Listen to people and help them with their issues in any way available to you. This may be an introduction, it may be another way. Most of all, be honest.
I, for one, would rather leave behind a legacy of being a nice guy who cared about people. I don’t have a desire to be known as a ruthless or shrewd business owner. I’d rather carve out a healthy financial living and help to do the same for those who help me get there. Karma’s a great thing, and I would like to think that if I was ever in need of a job, I could call on a list of people I’ve helped over the years and they’ll come to my aid. Maybe I’ve made an introduction that led to someone getting a fantastic new job. The next time they need a website, BITS may come to mind. In the end, be a good person. People will remember you for it and your legacy will live on. Being an asshole - that probably won’t leave folks with such a fond memory.