We’ve come to live at a time when we are genuinely surprised by good deeds. Especially when you don’t expect them or when the good doer doesn’t expect anything in return. Yes, somewhere along the way this World became so rotten that your basic reaction is suspicion. You are left wondering “Why would someone do such a thing for me?”.
This is one such story.
The previous engagement
I used to work for a large near-shore outsourcing company. We were in quite a tight spot with the project I was working on. I felt that as the Scrum Master on the project I lacked both the experience and the knowledge to get the project out of that tight spot. I needed more insight, more knowledge. So, I asked my company to send me to a conference in Amsterdam. It was a two-day Lean conference with many great speakers, great talks, and most important, chance to talk to a lot of people, discuss different approaches, problems, and solutions to problems.
My company agreed immediately to my proposal. I didn’t even have to start convincing them. I was lucky like that. They bought the ticket, did the hotel reservations, everything.
The unforeseen circumstance
But in the mean time, from the moment we bought the ticket to the actual trip to the conference a few months later, I got an offer from a different company. It wasn’t just any offer. It was an offer to move out of the country and to work for a giant in the software tel-co industry. It was big, so I couldn’t say no.
I notified my company that I was quitting. They weren’t thrilled with my decision but I didn’t really leave them a lot of choice. They wished me all the best and I was to move out a month later. After I submitted my resignation I also notified them that they will need to find someone else to go to the conference we booked. And that is when the strangest thing happened, they said that I was the one to go to the conference after all. There was time to find another person, change the reservations, flights were not booked yet. The additional cost would have been 0. I couldn’t get why they wanted to send me. After all, I just quit, and I quit at the worst possible moment for the project and the team.
When I asked them “Why?” the answer I got was “It doesn’t matter that you quit. If you grow, the community grows. If the community grows, we grow as well. With you becoming better at what you do, you help other people become better as well. It doesn’t matter where you are, we all benefit from it indirectly!”. That hit me hard. The message they were sending, the attitude they had. It re-affirmed my beliefs that you have to be good, you have to do good, no matter the circumstances. That single thing they did, shaped the way I think and act later on. Now, it might all have been their last-minute pitch to try make me change my mind and stay. But I like to believe that they really meant it.
Good deeds resonate
Year and a half after leaving the company, whenever I talk about it I never mention the problems I had there. They are always buried somewhere deep under a lot of “lessons learned” mental notes. The bad things just fade away. What I do remember and what I always talk about are the good deeds. And I make sure I never forget to mention how they sent me to that conference but they didn’t really have to.
We all tend to recant previous experiences with previous companies. We love telling stories. In the essence, we are all story tellers. That is a powerful thing to know as a company. Because if you as a company have that in mind, you will always make sure to give your employees enough material so they tell many great stories about you. Good deeds resonate long after you’ve done them!