Life keeps me busy. I meet lots of people and some are in my life for a moment and some for nearly a lifetime. Sometimes it's by choice and sometimes fate, or perhaps destiny, keeps me connected. As I approach my 50th birthday, I am spending a little more time reflecting on how my life has been so far and the path ahead. Today, I considered the people on that path.
Take 15 minutes and imagine yourself skating slowly down a timeline. As you move, try and picture each person that you remember starting with early childhood. How did these people impact you? Did you like them, love them or hate them? What is the impact they had on who you are and who you strive to be. It's amazing to me when I do this exercise, how vivid the memories are of so many people. I am also fascinated by how many have been forgotten or simply lost touch.
These days with Facebook, it's much easier to connect with some of these people. And every now and then, I do. I have had phone calls, lunches and dinners with people I haven't seen in 35 years. Here are 5 reasons why I do it.
1. It's grounding
I think it's great to remember where you came from. Some of my early life felt tough, most of it was pretty ok, but I am the sum of my experiences. The people who shaped me in high school, college and early in my career taught me the rules of the game. Most cheer for me to succeed, as I do for them. People early in my life are the foundation from which I continue to grow, and it pays to remember and appreciate them. It's a great feeling to see where we are today.
The hardships and joys I experience in my life seem like the highest of highs and the lowest of lows... to me. Hearing the annals of life from long known peers helps me to create a relative understanding on the trajectory of my life. I can better understand the level of challenge and triumph that I go through and keep it in proportion to my surroundings.
It's interesting to reflect on paths not taken. I like to think about the various choices I could have made and examine the possible outcomes. Connecting with old friends provides additional information to flesh out those possibilities. It's not that I regret the path I chose, rather this exercise helps confirm my love for the path I am on and strengthen my confidence in the choices I am making.
It's hard to get people to tell you how they really perceive you when they are engaged in the moment. Old friends can give you insight to who you were and why events played out as they did. I have a much better understanding today of how I was perceived 25 years ago. Those insights would never have been shared then, and there are great nuggets of value in them today to understand myself as a person and a leader.
5. It's fun
It's amazing how the tiniest of common bonds can get people to laugh and smile. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and while I don't want to live in the past all the time, it's an entertaining place to visit and have a laugh or two.