Here we are, near the end of 2019.
The other night, my son was in bed with me when he started to talk about why women aren’t going to be president anytime soon. And it took me a minute to tune in to his idea, my eyes starting to form a beady-eyed squint. A full minute before turning to my husband to ask, “He’s just yanking my chain, right?”
That 60 seconds where I was working myself up (edging up to the moment where steam might come out of my ears like a trite comic-strip) felt like a lifetime. But it was so short. So. Darn. Short.
And that had me thinking about time — and the passing of it.
It was 10 years ago that I shut down Rubicon. I really believed my career was over. “Over, over,” I would have said to any of my buds back then.
I had this blog back then, too. In fact, I had three: one personal, one about market trends, and one for my company.
It felt weird to just stop writing and it didn’t cost very much to keep going. I decided to integrate my different writing fragments, so as to not lose them. It still all resides (nearly 15 years’ worth of posts) on this site.
I called that decision “integration matters”, and wrote about it here. Re-reading that post just now gave me the shivers; looking backward, I can see a stepping stone of how I got here, writing to you today.
I kept on writing. Not because of any outcome, but because it felt like something worth doing.
It was actually writing in my pajamas (with no intention behind it) that led to my first HBR article. Then later, in my first Harvard-published book, I coined the term Onlyness as the most fundamental unit of value creation in an ideas economy.
I couldn’t have planned any of that. Nor could I have expected to be ranked today among the top 50 management thinkers who are shaping the future of work. Nor that I would now get to work with leaders across industries to enable Onlyness at work. Which is what I’m currently being invited to do. I couldn’t imagine an editor writing to me asking if I could write for him after reading my blog.
I could not (and would not) have dreamed of any of this back then. And, maybe I didn’t need to.
What I needed to do was in front of me.
Most of us underestimate what we can do in 10 years and overestimate what we can do in a month.
Most of us underestimate what we can do in 10 years and overestimate what we can do in a month. We think we need to control things when really we just need to create things.
Maybe we need to let all our expectations go and just do the work we are called to do. To do it with our whole heart. And let that (not timelines or recognitions) be how we measure progress.
And with that reflection, I want to end by wishing you all the merriest moments during this winter season. I hope you are surrounded by those who see you and are inspired by what you do.
Certainly, I am grateful to have you as part of this community. Grateful beyond words.
I usually sign off with a prompt for how to put a column into practice.
Can I ask you (if you’re willing) to share a story of your own about the passing of time? Maybe a reflection of the past decade on the passing of time? Or on the work, you are called to do?