July marked the 40th anniversary of Shepley. What an interesting milestone! At 40, we are supposed to be old enough to know better but young enough to live our dreams. Mentally I still have myself pegged at 35. Our sons think that is amusing so my vision of what I look like, is not what they see when they look at me. Fortunately, with age comes a deeper sense of humor!
My father told me that when being interviewed years ago about what trait he would bestow upon his sons, he answered “a sense of humor”. By that he meant more than the ability to laugh. He meant the ability to put things in perspective and keep them in perspective. I believe he also meant the ability to look at a situation from various angles. He was an architect, after all. It is easy to stick to our own default beliefs, and our own familiar emotional reactions. It is easy to get stuck in what we know. It is hard to create a different perspective.
I have had the same job for 40 years. That puts me in a pretty narrow slice of the world employment pie chart! Actually, I have had the same job title for 40 years but the job has evolved and with it, so have I. My job started out being more about me and the small company I was part of, now it is a whole lot more about everyone else and a much larger group of customers and coworkers. 40 years later, I am amazed by how much there is for me to learn. That is what keeps things interesting. It also helps to keep me humble. We can not afford to say “We’ve been doing it this way for 40 years” because it’s a different world. The same old approach doesn’t necessarily work. It’s a fascinating puzzle to work out how to evolve and stay ahead of the curve.
Another important part of perspective should be a sense of gratitude. If we spend more time appreciating what we have, we don’t waste as much time being jealous of what we don’t. A good example is comparing today to “the good old days”. Our memories tend to filter out certain things and frankly, we don’t remember as well as we think we do. The “good old days” is not a crystal clear representation of what was as much as a slightly hazy, somewhat romanticized version of what we would like to remember.
I have another way to look at this. Someday, down the road, the days that you and I are living, right now, will be “the good old days”. Instead of waiting 20 years or 40 years, what are we doing to make the present as good as those good old days we will be looking back on? It’s our call and our opportunity. Another old piece of advice from my father was “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”. Just another way of saying, “today is the present, a present is our gift, go ahead open it up!”
Here’s to the next 40. Keep looking forward as much as you look back! Thanks for the past and let’s get busy with the future!