I recently attended a reunion in Texas with former colleagues from my early days in economic development.
Though many of us had not seen each other in almost 20-years, all of us picked up seamlessly where we once left off, spending hours into the evening catching up on old times.
As I reminisced on times past, I could recall with great clarity both the good times and the bad. Perhaps because I was young and optimistic.
Perhaps because my insatiable drive was not impeded by the weight of excess baggage or the inflexibility of scar tissue that can toughen us over time.
Perhaps because my glasses had a rosy hue that enabled me to see possibility instead of limitation – progress instead of liabilities.
It was a special time in my life when all things felt possible. A time when despite moments that severed my youthful naivety, most, if not all of us were having fun.
Fun in those days did not mean fewer hours or days of total ease. It did not mean there were no problems or personalities I’d rather avoid, but that my sense of deep purpose and the joy with which I pursued my work exceeded whatever pain points might arise.
It was a time when relationships mattered more than the problems of the day. A time when trust and collaboration trumped and transparency did not threaten my undoing. Significantly, it was a time when I took the job very seriously, but not myself.
Values and culture matter. People matter. Fun matters.
When these things stop mattering – when a culture of fear, complacency or corruption takes over, when we begin to take ourselves so seriously that we can no longer laugh at life or ourselves, a course correction is in order. No, it doesn’t begin out there. It begins in hereat others, but with others, or perhaps even at yourself?