There was a point about 5-6 years ago when my relationships with a couple of people I had to work with regularly were quite strained. We disagreed often on what we thought we ought to do both at a strategic and implementation level. It would have been very easy to let our differences result in a permanent break in the relationship because we all felt very strongly about our positions on some matters.
I recall, however, sitting at lunch with a couple of trusted advisers talking about the situation. In speaking about those I was having issues with, I told them “We were friends long before we worked together and I hope to be friends long after we work together. So I need to act now in a way that respects that friendship.”
It wasn’t but a couple of years after that when all of us had moved on to other work. The friendships were and are still intact. The disagreements over what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it years ago are ancient history that don’t matter any more. We’ve all changed a little since then, hopefully for the better and toward maturity.
The topic comes to mind today because this week will find me spending time with both of the above people. One of them lives out of state and periodically comes in to stay for a day or two. I value those times together. The other lives nearby and, while we don’t see each other often, all is well when we take the time to catch up as we will in a few days.
Relationships matter. Friendships matter more than insisting on your way regarding very temporal issues of minimal long-term consequence. Act in ways that strengthen relationships.
Leap year lesson #11: Don’t burn bridges.