What they remember

Over the years, I’ve heard many people recount memorable meetings with people they considered great. For some, it was a famous athlete and, for others, it was a favorite author or leader. And, I always find it interesting to observe what they remember.

They rarely recount the big speech or the fantastic performance during the game. Instead, they remember the smallest of details. They talk about how the warmth they experienced when they shook hands or how their hero treated everyone around them with respect. I’ve heard how Bill Clinton made everyone in the room feel special. Rafael Nadal is always gracious and respectful to the folks on the side who hand him towels during the game. And, Indra Nooyi, known to be incredibly smart and tough, can give memorable compliments.

I’ve experienced this myself as well. With folks I consider my heroes, it is always the small things that I remember. The big things are expected.

While we all seek to have impact on the organizations we work for, most of us strive to have an impact on the people we work with. It is part of being human. We like to be liked and appreciated.

And, my biggest lesson from the “what they remember” stories is that, in the long run, the big meeting or presentation today won’t have the impact we think it will. It will all be about the small things. It will be how we chose to work, treat people and approach the day.

So, today, let’s stay engaged, pay attention, and commit to doing the small things with extraordinary love. Then, let’s do that again tomorrow.

For, it is the small things that are the big things.

What changes and what doesn’t

It was a Sunday evening. I had a yellow table lamp on and put on a beautiful series of songs on my speakers and sat on the couch.

I realized that there are many things that have changed in the last few years. But, at the same time, so many things just haven’t.

15 or so years ago, 100 of us went on a weekend school trip to an amusement park that specializes in water rides. I’d still rank the day spent in that park as among the best in my life. We just had an incredible amount of fun through the day. Just imagine 50 pre-teen boys darting around a water park. At the end of the day, I remember feeling really tired, sitting with a few close friends on the train back home and listening to a a couple of songs on our walkman (remember them?). That moment felt special.

I thought of the little things that have stayed special over these years.

Relaxing in the evening listening to great music. That’s special.
Add a great conversation with a few friends to the mix. That’s even better.
A trip with close friends. Just awesome.

Would this change if I had a few extra 0s on my bank account? Would this change if I achieved incredible professional success?

Absolutely not. Sure, money matters – I’m not debating that. But, beyond a point, there are all these things that either don’t require much money or just can’t be bought.

It helps to make sure we remind ourselves of what they are. And, to collect moments like these. It is easy to be caught up in our plans to do this and that in our lifetimes and to make sure we have no dearth of financial success.

But, in the end, it is these moments that are going to matter.. because, when we’re at an age when we have more money than we know what to do with, all that will really remain are those memories.