The choices you make today persist: A useful rule of thumb
In my 20s, my mental orientation was on the here and now. I counted time in months and years. In my 40s, my mental orientation has taken on a much broader timescale. I now spend as much time thinking about the past and future as I do the present.
Regarding time, I now think in terms of years and decades.
At one point, a former client invited me to give a speech to a small group of CEOs. The only reason I said "yes" was that the person who asked me was someone I had known professionally for 13 years. So, when I showed up in the conference room, I was surprised to discover four familiar faces. By reconnecting with those people from my past and giving a speech in the present, the two combined to open new doors for my future.
The past, present, and future all intersected at that moment. The choices you make today persist.
If you build good relationships today, they help you five, ten, and 15 years down the road.
In my 20s, I couldn't even conceive of life that far in advance, beyond theoretical terms. In my 40s, I am so glad that I treated people fairly and well years ago.
I'm glad that I put in the extra effort in -- two, five, ten, fifteen-plus years ago -- to make my work as strong as possible. Those efforts make this year's and the next decade's worth of opportunities possible.
Here's the thing. I could have very easily cut corners in areas of my career. Nobody would have noticed. The things that become assets in your career are often created years earlier when nobody else is watching. You could very easily cut corners, dismiss that person, or add less value. Nobody would ever know.
When you make those extra efforts (even when you don't have to, especially when you don't have to), they add up over time. You can choose to do the bare minimum not to offend anyone or do the maximum possible, given your skills and availability.
In the week following, in either case, there's no material difference in the outcome. However, in the decade that follows, the outcome difference is night and day.
Which approach are you using? What future are you creating (or not creating) for yourself today?
Adaptation from Victor Cheng, Founder, CaseInterview.com