I arrived at the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday for a bit of an escape from the bleak Chicago cold. The next day I was to give another presentation to my peers, exhorting them once again to (hopefully) new content heights. Opportunities to engage with new people and help them based on my experience are some of the most fun parts of what I do.
When I got in, I took a walk on the boardwalk. The air was a crisp 60 degrees, and felt great on my winter-blown skin. Across the water, I saw hoards of families, fresh off of magical experiences of the manufactured and genuine kind, coming down from theme park contact highs.
I sat by the edge of the water that evening, alone, fresh from hours of travel and miles away from my family, and wondered again:
Will it matter?
This is the lens by which I’ve started evaluating all of my decisions, personal, professional and otherwise. As my time becomes my most precious asset, I want to use it wisely.
Does it matter? was a good start. But the present is fleeting. Something that seemed so important to me in the moment often seems foolish shortly after. I’m looking for long-term value, seeds that I can plant now that I’ll be able to hold in my hand in the future and say, “I did this. This took effort, and I did it. And it was worth it.”
Will it matter that I took this half an hour to play with my son? I increasingly believe that our memories of who people are are a conglomeration of a thousand small moments more so than the big experiences we can plan around. I want my boys to know me as involved, as interested, as present. Yes, it will matter.
Will it matter if I have coffee with someone looking to break into the industry I work in? If I can help, it will certainly matter to him or her, and considering the wild journey that has been my career so far, I’m of the pay-it-forward, continue-being-grateful mentality. Yes, that will matter. People matter.
Will it matter if I watch the new season of “House of Cards”? Probably not.
Will it matter if I watch the new season of “House of Cards” with my wife? Spending time with my wife matters. And if I can put my arms around her for even 20 minutes a day, I don’t care what entertains us. I cherish those times. Yes, that matters, and it will keep mattering.
Will it matter if I buy this miscellaneous clothing item I’ve pined for? Will I like it still in a year? Will it last? Does it support a company with a mission? Check, check, check? Go for it.
Will it matter if I spend time with an old friend? If I help him out when he needs a favor? I hope that I know this will matter, and act accordingly. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t always.
Will it matter if I take a half day off and disconnect? If I read fiction? If I do things I enjoy for the sake of enjoying them? I tend to believe investing in oneself will matter. If I burn out, everyone depending on me suffers.
Will it matter if I agree to speak at this conference? Now we’re getting into varying depths of importance. If I get a few new potential clients out of it, that could matter. If I meet a few new interesting people who could either be good professional contacts or good friends (or both), that could very well matter a lot. Can I convince even one new person that the ability we have now to genuinely connect with thousands of people is a sacred trust that can and should be used for the greater good? Then it definitely will matter.
And I hope it did, and will. Leaving the conference now, that’s always my hope. Take my damn ego out of the equation, I want what I spend my energy on to matter.
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