- March 31, 2016
What Will They Say About Me?
For most of my life, I’ve subscribed to the #zerof*cks mentality. I rarely cared about what people said or thought. I was a real maverick. Ahem, jerk. I broke rules, I did whatever I wanted, when I wanted, and nothing got in the way. Nobody mattered but me and the awesome things I wanted to do. Anyone who did get in the way got trampled (sorry about that). It worked out pretty well – for a while. I managed to align myself with a group of similar people who all wanted the same things out of life. That all changed when I got a ‘real’ job and began taking life seriously
I recently attended a funeral service for a man who was loved by many people. While I only knew him for a short period of time, I could tell that he lived a very full life and experienced all of the things he wanted to. He was smart, successful, generous, outgoing, active, and constantly learning new things. He was 83.
As I sat and listened to all of his friends and family get up in front of a room full of people to tell stories and share, I couldn’t help but wonder… Will this many people come to see me off? Will they say nice things about me? Will they tell stories that everyone will wish they were a part of? And then it dawned on me. It’s not their responsibility to show up and say nice things. It’s mine to leave them with something special enough to encourage a story.
Of all the things I heard that day, there’s a quote that stuck out and has been floating around my brain for the past two weeks:
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
You may not realize it, but that, right there, is Maya dropping some serious science. Just think about it for a minute. People aren’t going to remember that shiny new CMS you fought so hard for on that one project. Your friends and family aren’t going to remember that killer app you built in favor of living your life at night and on the weekends. And they will most likely forget that bleeding edge design you poured hours and hours into. What they will remember is how you got there, how you presented it, how you acted and treated people throughout the process – how you made them feel.
For the record, I still break the rules – all the time. I have no plans on changing that. And I am not suggesting the righteous path through life is defined by doing what’s expected. That would be boring. Just be cool. Be humble. Ask questions as often as you answer them. Don’t read too deep into things. Good people have bad days.
I could rattle off cliches until the cows come home, but I will spare you that awkward pain and leave you with one of my favorites: