People Leave Trails

Whether they know it or not.

Our building was flooded a few weeks back.  (Not a result of weather, by the way.  This was a good old fashioned fire suppression system failure.)  The picture above is the workspace where people came in every day for years, sat in their cubes, and quietly made a difference.

See the difference in the colors on the carpet?  Every day, people walked these floors, designing, correcting, imagining, processing, meeting, influencing, frustrating and captivating their peers.  Every step left a mark, even if it wasn’t noticeable at that moment.  But over time, the trails they have made are unavoidable.

These people didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about their trails, I imagine.  They didn’t think about treading down the specific patch of carpet between Bob’s desk and Betty’s desk.  They just moved from desk to desk, getting their task completed.  But make no mistake, their life left a trail.

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I’m a creature of habit.  My morning routine when in the office is pretty set.  It includes a stop at our cafeteria to grab an omelet (bacon and mushroom) and two bottles of Coke Zero.  Dave makes my omelet.  Occasionally there will be a substitute person working the grill, and the omelet is made in a different way.  It’s never the same, and never as good.  I’m sure that Dave doesn’t get up thinking about my eggs, doesn’t drive to work thinking about my eggs, or even think much about my eggs when he’s cooking them.  But they matter.  If it’s not Dave making the eggs, I feel off kilter all morning.  True story.

Anyone can make eggs.  More or less, anyway.  But only Dave makes Dave’s eggs.  And I make sure he knows it.

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Somewhere in your office, warehouse, dock, or bullpen is a person who doesn’t think much about their job.  It’s a mindless, repetitive task, perhaps.  It’s a low glamor job, in all likelihood.  They may suspect that a well trained monkey could do that job.  They might be right. But it wouldn’t be the same, because it is the person that makes the difference.  They leave a trail every day.

Don’t let that trail go unnoticed until they are gone.

Comments

  1. Great information and insight. Big fan on twitter also. I am glad to have stubledupon this article.

  2. It’s simple. Beautiful. True. Everything we do matters. In some way, large or small, it has an impact. Reminding everyone to take a moment to recognize this is smart and glorious. Routine is great and it also can become a rut – don’t let the day-to-day stop you from thinking about those you touch each day and those that make your routine flow smoothly. Outstanding, my friend, really outstanding.
    Thanks!
    Richard

  3. Spot on Dwane. It’s the people that matter…not the “stuff.”

  4. This is such a great post, Dwayne. There are “Dave’s” in everyone’s office and it is essential to make sure they know who they are and what they do is important. Sometimes, that’s all a person really wants to know — that they matter and someone recognize their contribution, even if it’s small.

    It also reminds me of the guy in our office who makes the coffee in the mornings. It started because he was the first person there at 6:30am, but we absolutely notice the difference when he isn’t there. I tell him all the time that if the Procurement Exec thing stops working for him, he’d be a kick-ass barista!

    I’ll be thinking of your omelette when I’m sipping my coffee tomorrow. Thanks again for sharing this!

  5. The power of habit is great. What we do without thinking normal has much more impact than what we think about.

    • Very true. Sometimes action without thinking is good. When it comes to the people around us, though, stopping to think about them can really shift your perspective.

      Thanks for reading!

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