“Scott, don’t you realize that you’ve been lucky enough to lay a brick in this great foundation?”
Are we living in a world where personal achievement is so glorified that we are not able anymore to appreciate our constant “small” contributions?
I was listening to Scott Belsky from Adobe telling this story the other day. He’s in a meeting for this foundation and by the end of it, by his standards, ‘nothing got done’. After the meeting, he takes a member of the board aside to share his frustration, and that’s where this elderly man tells him the phrase above.
This man also add something extremely important:
“[…] Scott, all these startups you’ve worked for will be sold, acquired or closed in the next 5 years. This foundation instead was here 200 years ago and will be here in another 100 years. Good things take time. Appreciate that today you laid a brick. You’ve contributed.”
This concept of contributing is as important as it is overlooked.
I have to say that for days this story really stuck with me. Maybe because one of my main drives for moving from country to country, from company to company, from client to client, has been this deep desire to “make a difference”. To have a positive impact on someone’s business and life. Often at the cost of disregarding many small contributions as ‘unimportant’.
Hearing this story from Mr Belsky really made me ponder how many times do we overlook our own contributions?
I’m very strict when it comes to my own work. When I do something good or achieve a milestone I usually think: “Cool, you’ve done your job, Lorenzo. Now, move onto the next task.”
Looking back I now see more of all the little contributions I’ve made to startups and massive companies. But also to charities, foundations, music bands and of course family and friends. All too often overlooked or dismissed as unimportant.
Who said that we always have to make “the difference”? Volunteering for one day doesn’t make “the difference” in the world, yet it lays another brick in building solidarity.
Maybe our “making the difference” drive is actually partially an ego trip. Something that can make us lose opportunities to make a contribution, no matter how small.
This made me think how important it is to pass on the torch. Sometimes we are the light bearers. Sometimes we just pass it on to someone else.