I'm taking this title from my mother who has accused me more than once of what she terms "drive-by humanity." It's a compliment. It's the ability to affect someone else's life in a meaningful or transformational way--as you pass by. Insightful comments meant as honest observations, imparted in quick, but passing conversations can change and transform someone else's entire life. It's a powerful thing that we need more of.
In the hustle and bustle of the business world, we are focused on the outcomes, the measures and the goals, but rarely do we take time to acknowledge the true source of our productivity: the people. The nuances of the numenom go unreflected in the daily grind and the power of people takes a back seat to the productivity we prize.
But at the end of the day, it's the people who make all that possible. Our co-workers and employees, our bosses and subordinates, and we all have our "real lives" outside of work. Occasionally even the most diligent worker faces the creep of his or her personal life into the sphere of the work world. And as we go from meeting to meeting, we forget to check-in on each other. Ask about life. Ask about family and friends. Hobbies. Hopes.
Chances are when you think about the person whom your respect or revere the most at work, it is not necessarily the most productive person that pops into your head, but the person who asks about you--the real you. It makes you feel valued. How are you doing this for others?
As a person with a gift of gab and a fairly unique view on life, I am often afforded the chance to offer advice, either professional or personal. And I take that responsibility very seriously--even if I don't spend a lot of time giving advice. What results is that I can make meaningful changes to people's lives by taking just a few minutes to care about them. Sometimes its a simple check-in. Sometimes its more complex. But I always take the time to get personal, because that's part of life.
It didn't dawn on me the power of these passing words until I recently left a job and at my "going away" party, I had several former employees and co-workers corner me in the crowded room to let me know that things I barely remember saying had fundamentally changed the course of their lives. I can't describe the power that had over me. It wasn't that I couldn't remember because I didn't care, but I considered these conversations simple and obvious acts of humanity, and in some cases, a dose of straight truth, but these seemingly innocuous, drive-by interactions had transformed lives.
Which led me to the next truth: my definition of personal excellence. It turns out that while I may be wise or intelligent or creative or analytical or strategic or effective or any of these things (apparently not modest), they are not the true source of my personal excellence. My personal excellence is inspiration. I am blessed with that intangible talent and it feeds my fire. Inspiring others makes me happy. It is, quite simply, what I'm excellent at. So my question to you is: What is your personal excellence and what is it that you truly value? Fact is, I'm not going to make the most money, and I'm not going to be the most gifted athlete and I'm also not the most sympathetic ear--but I can inspire people to do great things. And I value this. It is important to me.
For a long time I measured the value of my life in money and position, but it never made me happy. And I couldn't figure out why. I haven't transformed the world like Gandhi. I don't make millions. But I have made personal "drive-by" differences in thousands of lives. I have lifted people up in their darkest moments and helped others find their voice. And while it may not be a value system that is rewarded by society, it is certainly rewarded in life.
If you don't know what makes you great--what is the true core of your personal excellence--I encourage you to find it. Because if you do, you will not only inspire others to find theirs, but you will live a life inspired.