I lost a good friend recently. He was a true good, gentle spirit. A gentleman to a fault. In a profession of egos and insanity, he maintained an even, quiet demeanor that was consistent, no matter what kind of day he was having.
He did not enter a room and strategize how he could assume control. He did not carry an impressive day planner or leather portfolio. I never, in working with him for 30+ years, saw him wear a suit. He simply carried himself with a confident dignity that spoke much louder than wearing a watch that can control the refrigerator. His mode of transportation was anything but the coolest model off the showroom floor. In fact, his beat-up car/truck/suv/crossover would have come in handy on Let’s Make a Deal, because everything he needed was inside.
I don’t remember ever having a disagreement with him. True, his alma mater was not my favorite, but I could forgive, as he had played football for his school and was very proud of his accomplishments. No matter how tough the assignments we faced as colleagues, or how hot the day, he’d always say, “This ain’t nothing. Try two-a-days” in a reference to two practice workouts in one day in sweltering temps prior to the football season.
His point: I’ve seen worse. We’ll get through this.
And we always did, even when the demands of our clients were unorganized, unfair, and often ridiculous. He would do what it required, whether it was a weekend, nighttime or holiday. He was driven by a commitment to show up, do a good job, and be a grownup.
I can’t say how much I miss him.
As a friend, it hurts because he always made me laugh. He loved music, he loved sports, and he loved his family. He was a pleasure to be around. As a colleague, I know I may never find anyone quite like him again. Granted, I still work on projects with talented, mature, reasonable people. But this particular person was from an era that we won’t see again, at least not for a long while.
Maybe one day again, people will truly respect each other for their experience and their talent, and not dismiss them if they don’t know the latest share-file software.
Maybe one day again, every person involved in a project will take a personal interest in seeing that it is done correctly, on time, and in budget.
Maybe one day again, appearances, hairstyles and clothing won’t matter as much as wisdom, accuracy and reliability.
I hope so. Because I can assure those under 40 that when you work in this manner, you feel better, smile more and sleep much more soundly.
He’s in a better place, at least I believe so. He’s strumming his guitar and relaxing knowing he made a difference here. I hope I can do the same. We all must.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.