Today, I choose to surrender
I was recently graced by friends I’ve known for more than 20 years. We reunited, after 10 years, in Manhattan over convivial and sometimes riotous wander: dinner, drinks, blues, and remember-when two nights in a row. And on the last day, waiting for their flight, it was pizza and wine delivered to my apartment.
It being Tuesday, I had to fit work in, so they had a front-row seat for my digital and physical desktops by 5 PM; the endless pacing and gesturing during conference calls; and finally, the pride of showcasing our latest project: a website content overhaul and image boost that I’m shepherding for a local nonpartisan political nonprofit.
“Do you want to see what I do?” my friend humbly asked, and I gladly shifted the keyboard her way.
Elainna has been in tech for over 20 years, and has for 15 years been involved with several southern school districts. She develops software to improve data gathering, highlight and assist at-risk students, and design programs to lessen the impact and frequency of such issues as defacing property, bias, and bullying.
She logged me in to her latest invention. Within 10 minutes of witnessing what could’ve only been 5% of the bells & whistles, I was speechless.
I am rarely speechless.
The wheels start spinning—that thing that happens that some might say makes me pretty good at what I do. As a builder or inventor often is, Elainna modestly accepts my praise before going full nerd. She lays out all the features and all that it can do—not to mention the potential it has to help on every level: district, school, classroom, and at home.
I had plenty of ideas on how this thing could scale. But Elainna said, “I’m not a salesperson. I wouldn’t be good at selling it,” before shifting gears and essentially selling me on it.
But I begged her, “In this moment, there are no limits. Let’s Just Be in that space for a while.”
Three nonconformists reunited are a dangerous thing. Or not. Her husband Yuri, she, and I toss ideas back and forth for over an hour, and then she turns to me and says, “But, OK, how can I help you?”
How often do you give out and never hear those words, especially as a consultant? How often do you believe in someone else’s greatness, never expecting them to turn that around to how they can celebrate yours?
I don’t know if that’s cynicism or just how shit goes…
How many networking groups or business relationships do we entertain where the sentiment hinges on, “What have you done for me lately? Or what will you do?”
Too many. But you get used to that rhythm somehow, and you start to adopt the narrative: Nothing in life is free.
I wasn’t even sure how to answer. (Damn independence.) But I recovered and told her simply to keep her ears open for opportunities where 816 New York’s name might fit, to which she replied with a litany of ideas of her own.
Let me make clear: Until they were planning their NYC trip, we had casually interacted on social media for a decade. They knew very little about my business or my life here, as I’m militantly opposed to social media most days.
But that, my friends, is reciprocity. That is how unity survives these overly divisive times. In those moments, reaching back.
In How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, a contemporary application of the ideas from Dale Carnegie’s infamous book, in the chapter “Surrender the Credit,” you find:
Surrendering the credit is a way of life you cultivate in your relationships because you are grateful for them and for what they give to you. It is nothing more than putting the success and betterment of others first—and putting your confidence in both who you are and in the rubberlike power of reciprocity….
What would happen if this spirit of relating spread throughout a company or a particular niche in the marketplace, or even across an entire value chain?
We have more power to spread this spirit of relating today than ever.
And perhaps my favorite as a nonconformist in this me-me-me, wow-obsessed world:
It is the unconventional mind that understands success isn’t about attention and accolades. It’s about partnerships and progress.
I like to imagine a world where that’s the norm rather than the exception.
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