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.
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.
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.