Making An Impact


"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."   - Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago some former colleagues came over for dinner and s'mores, and we spent a great night catching up on what felt like a far too lengthy separation.  The conversations flowed easily, the stories were hysterical (Art from The Elevator post was there!), and it was a real treat to spend time together.  And while we touched on a few old stories, we didn't spend too much time in the past. We just caught up with the present.

You have similar stories, right?  Maybe at a reunion, or visiting an old neighborhood, or at an industry meeting where you see a friend and then pick up right where you left off?  The experience made me wonder; why is it so easy to pick right back up with old, good  friends even when your lives don't regularly intersect?


Among the assorted possible explanations (and the one that rings most true for me) is that this group of people have always felt accepted around each other.  So, when we reconnect after a time apart, acceptance and ease are never far away.  Because of the time we've logged, we are more than aware of each others quirks, but it doesn't matter in the scheme of things.  We don't focus or even remember all of our stories together, but we  reconnect because we know we're safe to be ourselves.

What we DO remember is how we made each other feel.

I am challenged to live by this principle consistently.  Every person that I'm working with now is going to forget the specifics of our projects; they will forget our deals, a lot of our conversations, and the spreadsheets that we poured over.  However, they WILL remember how I made them feel.

Some days, I find myself asking myself questions about feelings on the drive home from work.  Questions like:

Am I clipped and bossy or am I collaborative?  Do I bark out orders or ask questions?  Do I express gratitude or do I act entitled?  Do I exude patience or impatience?  Do we laugh enough together or are we all business?

In a sentence, do I pay attention to how I make people feel?

That is, after all, what makes a lasting impact, whether I do it poorly or do it well.

In the end, the goal is to build others up.  I'm convinced that, if you keep that in front of you each day, then you can look forward to, someday, huddling up again, eating some marshmallow/chocolate/s'more goodness around a fire pit, and picking right back up where you left off.

After all, that is what people that like each other do.