“It was the worst two years of my life,” he said. We all have years like that, times we would rather forget, places we never revisit in our minds.
Recently, I was able to catch up with a former colleague. Not just any former officemate, but someone who had made a difference in my life – made me a better person, improved my perspective on the world in general. You know the type, the go-to person in your organization, the recognized leader whether boss or peer. Unfortunately, they are rare. Yet fortunately for me, I can count a handful over the years.
On my way to a degree in organizational management, we talked about these folks, learned they were not necessarily the ones with the title (although they can be) but the ones with competence, professionalism, character – the real leaders regardless of rank – the influencers.
It is always a good idea to be on cordial terms with coworkers. Just like houseguests, some make us happy by their coming and others by their going. According to a textbook with the scary title, “Praxis of Organizational Health,” research shows it is the people you work with who govern your perception of whether you rank it a good job or a bad job.
I spent a few years working alongside a boss who was so diplomatic it was said he could tell someone they were wrong and do it in such a way they left feeling complimented. You naturally want to keep touch with someone like that, to continue to enjoy the mentorship crumbs that fall from the table.
I am also fortunate to have had colleagues who made a job bearable because of their presence, demeanor, personality, sense of humor, and commitment to excellence. Such was the colleague with whom I recently reconnected. I attempted to convey my gratitude for his positive influence.
“Thank you for saying that,” he responded with quiet emotion, “those were the worst two years of my life.”
Yet, during those same two years, he had made my job covetable. I want to be like that. I want it to be inherent in my character.
Heartaches happen; losses, divorces, deaths, illnesses, false accusations, rejections – the worst year or years of our life (may they be kept to a minimum).
Even in my own misery, I want to go on making the world a better place for others.