My aunt Key was a die hard Democrat. For her, voting was a 30-second exercise that simply meant walking into the booth, pulling the lever on a straight Democratic ticket, and going home. There was no need to investigate candidates or read platforms. If there was a D after their name they were getting her vote.
She was also a devout Catholic. Never missing Sunday mass, praying the rosary every night, and earnestly accepting the rules of the Church, even the ones that relegated women to second-class citizens.
She was a nurse. Full-time, whether on-duty or off. It wasn’t her job or occupation, but a life-long vocation that gave as much to her as she gave to it. She loved her hospital, her co-workers, and most of all her patients, almost as much as they loved her.
Finally, she was Irish, and proud of it. Embodying all of the qualities of a true green mick, including the inability to cook, to make a long story short, and to say goodbye in less than 45 minutes. She could laugh louder and longer than anyone in the room and was never afraid to show it.
This was my aunt Key. It was her identity. It is who she was.
We like to think we are complex creatures, having so many dimensions and affiliations that our own identities could not possibly be summed up in four, short paragraphs. But we are wrong, because usually they can. Especially the most meaningful parts.
So here’s the important question for you. After reading what I wrote above, do you know more about my aunt Key than you do about your own bosses, employees or coworkers? Do you know more about her than you do about your most important clients and customers, members and vendors, sponsors, donors, students, or patients? Did four paragraphs about a complete stranger give you more insight into who she was than the people who send you checks or allow you to make a living?
If so, you’ve got a problem. If not, you might want to prove it. This morning, pick the 3 most important relationships in your business lives and try writing four, short paragraphs about them. About who they are. I promise it will be time well spent. At worst, you will remind yourself of what you already know. At best, you will realize what you don’t, and hopefully do something about it.