Choose wisely for now and later
Early in my career, I was blessed to have some amazing managers. One in particular left me with words that deeply impacted both my professional and personal lives.
This manager was both a mother and on-the-job powerhouse. I looked up to her and took it seriously when she took me aside after receiving all-hours emails from me. “Deb,” she cautioned, “You’re single now, but someday you might have a family. People won’t remember most of the projects you work on the job two months later, let alone two years later. Family will. The choices you make with your time now will pave the way for the choices you make then. Think about it.”
She only wanted me to consider my priorities early, when I was still learning how to shape them as a new professional. She didn’t intend to blow my mind. She probably doesn’t even remember the two minutes in which she changed my life.
My bigger picture
Regardless of her intention, she did blow my mind. She gave me a gift of perspective I wish were imparted to new professionals everywhere.
I enjoy my paying job. I find it thrilling to transform seeds of an idea into a working relationship between two companies. Many pieces must come together for such a relationship to exist, and I revel in my part in putting them together.
I take this job seriously, but I don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. In that bigger picture, I manage not only contracts but an enormous personal project comprised of myriad components: motherhood. I’m not paid for this work as a maternal manager, but the impacts of my work are immense.
What he takes with him
Most software will be replaced within a few years’ time, and the relationships between most companies will eventually dissolve. By contrast, the time and care I put into my relationship with my son will hopefully have decades to grow. My choices as I raise him and show him to respect self and others are ones that will be his foundation for the rest of his life. They shape who he will be as a friend, a worker, a father, and a grandfather for the rest of his life, in ripples that will scatter far and wide across generations.
I am both serious about and grateful for my paying job, but I believe it is my unpaid work as a mother that will be remembered most enduringly. I make my choices in ways that reflect this understanding, and am forever mindful that the truest measure of work’s value is not in its monetary recompense, but in the kinds of pay that don’t come printed in summary on any pay stub.
What advice has changed your life?