Affecting People in a Positive Way

Around the middle of last year I left my job. I announced it, emailed everyone, visited some people who were extra special to me in remote offices, gave them my contact info, pointed them to this blog, and off I went.
When I did all that, I was truly touched by some of the responses I got. Many of them were people congratulating me but some of them told me stories of how I affected their lives in a positive way.
For example, one woman told me she was forever thankful for my advice and my mentoring, and that no one else would spend the time with her to do this mentoring but yet I did and now she was applying all those things that we talked about and it was making her new job much easier. And this was a person who didn’t report to me; I was just friends with her and helped her outside of my group.
The comments didn’t just stop. They kept coming.
Earlier this year, I had dinner with a guy who worked for me. He told me that he missed my management of him, and that when I was there, things were more interesting for him, and that he enjoyed the intellectual discussions we had and the fun projects we worked on. He enjoyed the freedom that I gave him to do the work and how he approached it, as long as it functioned within certain boundaries I was fine with it.
And just this last week alone, I got a randomly a whole bunch of positive comments regarding my blog entries, and how people were enjoying reading my blog. It made them think about their own lives, and how my entries reflected issues in their own experiences. I think they also enjoyed staying connected with me, although in a somewhat textual fashion versus through live conversation (sometimes it’s just too hard to see someone in person).
In life or at work, I’ve always tried to bring out the best in people. I’ve tried to look at who they were and what they needed, and then I would proceed to tweak either subtly or loudly. Sometimes, it could be me saying to them something that would get them thinking down a new direction. Other times, it would be motivating them to increase the quality of their work to excellence and finding ways to break through their malaise. Or, it could be just a simple dinner conversation about a topic and then later on I find out they actually have used it in their daily lives and sometimes they actually thank me for suggesting it.
This is something that really has meant a lot to me. Engaging in people and leaving them with some part of me, or being influenced by me, and then see them come out better than yesterday. I get great satisfaction when others around me benefit from what I have done or given them.
It’s something that has always attracted me about design, that we could build a product or website and then, knowing how many units we’d make or how many visitors would come to the website, that each one of these people would gain the benefit of that product. Product design was a way for me to reach millions of people with the least effort. And I would always take great pleasure in knowing that each one of these people using the product on daily basis would have their lives improved by some measurable amount.
So thanks for your kind words and reflecting back to me your positive experiences, resulting from something that I have shared with you. I hope that you continue to find value in what I do, and please do keep in touch and tell me what you think.
As I go through life sharing my experiences and watching for the positive effects, I’ve also noticed one thing which I’d like to congratulate you, my readers, acquaintances, and friends for.
I’ve found that there are people who are so closed off to advice from external sources. No matter what you tell them whether in a directive or conversational way, the experiences seem to never stick. They never remember what you say and thus, they never even get to apply it.
However, then I noticed there were people I met who were completely the opposite. They file away everything you say and sometimes you’re not even aware that they do it. But then, you may be watching them some day and you’ll see a little bit of what you shared with them in what they are doing. Or they may actually come back to you and thank you for that little tidbit you dropped them during lunch.
To me, you who fall into this group should feel proud. You never throw away any thought because it may be useful. And you remember and thank the source. Feel good knowing that you are part of a special group of people, whether by genetics or by design, will always apply useful information no matter what the source of however you’ve been giving it, and you are gracious enough to thank the source.
At JFK I flipped through Marcus Buckingham’s new book, “The One Thing You Need to Know” and miraculously upon flipping it open to some random page, I flipped to the page which contained “the one thing” and it happened to be that successful managers (out of many hundreds polled) would always try to figure out what motivated the individual, what would make them successful, and work on that aspect of the employee, versus focusing on other things like how to align this person with the goals of the company, which has proven to not work nearly as well.
Nice to know that some experts are saying that what I do (and love doing and get deep satisfaction for) is actually something that might be the right thing to do…