Last Wednesday I walked into a work setting I had walked out of ten years ago.
I had been a consultant to a department of twenty people or so. I answered questions, gave opinions, and helped them make decisions, as much as possible based on what I called "soft landings." I stressed fairness and creativity in their work and mine, which involved interviewing and understanding and then evaluating what was real and relevant for people who had encountered some kind of significant illness or disability. And before I left I had a chance to teach those principles to the whole organization--about 200 people in five U.S. locations.
Ten years later. I walked into that office and reconnected with probably ten people I hadn't had even one contact with in all this time. And it was wonderful.
Forgive me, I don't say this to brag. But one after another they told me I made a difference. They told me they have never forgotten what they had learned from me.
Many showed me little doodads I had given them: a little inspirational postcard, a little wind up toy, a clear extra large glass marble I had given everyone for Christmas, a little plaque of a shooting star. I had forgotten that I made this part of my consulting presence: I'd bring interesting or inspirational objects to my desk and if somebody liked it, I'd give it away.
Ten years later. There was more. Every single person I embraced looked BETTER than they did ten years ago. The age range varied, probably from 35 to 50; people had married and divorced and had children and battled illnesses and faced loses. And they looked good.
Maybe the best part was the smiles. We were so glad to see each other.
This is a crew that I will now do a little more consulting work for, with pleasure.
But most of all, they told me I had made a difference.
I am paid well to do this kind of work, but nothing mattered more to me then, or now, than making a difference.
Ten Years Later: I went 'home' again and I'll be damned, it was pretty swell.