Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Will They Miss You When You're Gone?

Remember the scene from Jerry Maguire when he leaves his former employer with an inspired speech confronting the firms lack of integrity? ... and as soon as he walks out the door everyone gets right back to work.

"Everyone is Important, No One is Irreplaceable" - Anonymous Corporate Leader

In my 20 years in corporate America, I've never seen a company go out of business because of one employees departure. I've always cared a lot about the work I do, often too much. I've always jumped into each day with the desire to win. I seldom take Mondays off because I cannot relax if I don't feel I am contributing. I work on vacation (every day). 

It probably sounds pathetic, but I've always felt the need to earn my spot on the team, and to contribute (every day). I never possessed natural talent in any trade but I was always willing to work hard. 

Tempering the desire to win with humility can be a challenge. It is also what defines you as a professional.

Captain Mike Abrashoff once told a story of a ship full of soldiers cheering when their leader left the deck for the final time. His departure marked the end of a miserable time in their lives facing meaningless abuse without intent to progress.  

If you were to reflect on your career, or your life for that matter, there is one glaring question you might want to be bold enough to face:

Will They Miss You When You Leave?

Setting the death aside, let's focus of one's professional legacy....

My professional regrets exist not in failure to achieve goals, but the times I put myself before the team. 

I remember every person who has ever told me "no" in the selling cycle. I remember every time someone sighted a personality flaw to characterize my professional potential. I will never forget the times I have been bullied in the workplace. 

I feel sorry for the the Captain who left the ship to thunderous applause. I feel sorry for those who thought they had to use their undeserved place on the mantle as leverage to vomit their personal frustration. 

Will They Miss You When You Leave?

Jobs will come and go, your children will grow up and some day you will die. You will not be remembered for how many times you won but the integrity you displayed in the process. 

At some point in my life a quote came to me:

"Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat"

... I still fail to live this ideology. But, I'm working on softening the edges. 

Colonel Abrashoff spoke of leaving the same ship as their captain to complete silence... grown men and women whose lives he had protected... in tears. The ultimate sign of respect!

  • Will your retirement party be under-attended?
  • Will someone whom you had to dismiss from employment hire you years later?
  • Will your daughter forgive you for missing her dance recital?

You Have Plenty of Time to Make it Right!

Tell the people you love that you love them (even if in the moment you don't believe it). Hug your kids, they'll get too big to carry to bed soon enough. Drop what you are doing to advise a co-worker. Blow off your board meeting to watch your son's baseball game. Kiss your wife in a room full of people. Sit silently with your kids when they fail, pump them full of positive feedback when they succeed. Never under-estimate anyone. Never walk into a meeting unprepared. Be respectful of retail workers. Tip your bartender. Get a Dog (they will help soften the edges). If you are pissed off put your I-pod on shuffle (Steve Jobs is in heaven and he knows how to slide a forgotten jewel in there). Read a book (an actual book). Call an old friend. Don't take the actions of the past too seriously.... most people are more forgiving than you may remember. 

You will make mistakes! You will fail! The key is to be one who is surrounded by supporters when you do.        

Will They Miss You When You Leave?

The streets will shut down on the day you die.... 

Will They Be Cheering or Crying?

Don't Forget to Remember!