Apr
03

How I Flunked My 10-Year Reunion

...and why I'm happy I did

  • Justin Zoradi
How I Flunked My 10-Year Reunion

I recently attended my 10-year high school reunion and couldn't believe just how much I’d forgotten over the last decade. I consider myself a very intentional person, but I was blown away by how many names, people, and events had completely slipped my mind.

One event that baffled me to no end was when I found out I had wronged someone I cared about in the fall of my junior year. Apparently, I didn't stand up for her when I should have, which hurt this person’s feelings because she considered me a friend. My lack of conviction made a lasting impression on her.

Here’s the weird thing: I barely remember that happening. Even when it was explained to me, my memory was still hazy.


But for the person whom I had hurt, it was fresh in her mind. And my actions, or lack thereof, had shaped her perception of me for the last 10 years.

What this means is that people are constantly forming opinions of us from daily interactions we may or may not remember. And that’s a little scary.

But it should also be motivating.

Based on the sheer number of interactions we have every day, there is a high probability that there are people whose last memory of you may be negative.

That last memory, without a doubt, shapes how that person perceives you, your work, your beliefs, and more.


As I've started on this journey of helping people do work that matters and attempt to do it myself, I've realized that one of our greatest human assets is relational capital. Not only are we created to be in relationships with others, but our careers, families, and basic mental health depend on the creation and cultivation of community.

This isn't always true but I think people who succeed are generally the ones who are well liked. People want to follow big ideas and brands but they also want to affiliate themselves with a leader they trust, someone they could sit down with over dinner.

You obviously can’t please everybody. And it’s impossible to go through life with everyone you meet becoming your friend. But here’s a tip:

Pretend every interaction you have with someone is the last thing they will ever remember about you. (Click to Tweet!)


Your brain can’t keep track of every conversation, so get it right the first time. You’ll never know how that small interaction will shape the future.

And if you've wronged someone, or even think you have, and you’re pretty sure that’s the last thing they remember, go fix it. Today. Create a new memory for them.

Bottom line: You want people on your team - people who like you. This isn't about people pleasing, but about building the foundation of success with the bricks of relational capital. It is one of the most important tools you have for inspiring others and making a real impact in the world.

-JZ

Photo Credit: Thompson Rivers, Creative Commons




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Comments (17)

  • Josh Irby

    Josh Irby

    04 April 2013 at 10:17 |
    Good thoughts. Although it was discouraging to discover you had hurt someone so long ago, you can probably also see how much you have changed in the past 10 years. I would guess you have much stronger convictions today than a decade ago.

    Thanks for the challenging post.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:41 |
      Thanks for reading Josh! It was quite discouraging to hear that I had hurt someone. But it worked out in the end and I learned a lot. Thanks!
  • Marc Alan Schelske

    Marc Alan Schelske

    04 April 2013 at 14:25 |
    I love this: "Pretend every interaction you have with someone is the last thing they will ever remember about you." A simple premise, but could radically change the way we relate to each other.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:42 |
      Thanks for reading Marc!
  • Larry J Rutledge

    Larry J Rutledge

    04 April 2013 at 16:26 |
    Wow! Great post! Like Marc I agree that the idea "Pretend every interaction you have with someone is the last thing they will ever remember about you" is a powerful concept!!

    1 Samuel 16:7b "... For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

    While this passage tells us an important lesson about how God views us, that it is what inside us that matters, what makes us who He sees us as; it also tells us another lesson, one that fits what you have said.

    "...for man looks at the outward appearance..."

    Yes, it is true that God looks at our heart, and it is our heart that really defines who we are. But unlike God, man cannot see inside our heart. They can only "...look at the outward appearance...".

    So it is of utmost importance that we live outwardly who we are inwardly.

    Our outward actions need to represent who and what we are, for that is how man knows who we really are. It doesn't matter if I love someone in my heart, what matters is that I live that out for them so they also know it.

    Great post as always Justin!! Thanks for a timely and vital reminder!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:43 |
      Thanks for reading and another great comment Larry!
  • Erik Staher

    Erik Staher

    04 April 2013 at 18:08 |
    "Your brain can’t keep track of every conversation, so get it right the first time. You’ll never know how that small interaction will shape the future."

    The stuff we are learning about the brain right now is AMAZING. You could even go as far as to say that EVERY interaction you have with someone is creating new pathways in both people's brain! So in some ways the brain does keep track of all of that. All the more important to work toward authentic, honest, positive, interactions with people.

    Cool Blog.

    Erik
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:46 |
      Thanks for reading Erik! Appreciate it man. And great seeing you last weekend. You're totally right about the new science around the human brain. The stuff they are able to figure out now is amazing.
  • Tania

    Tania

    04 April 2013 at 20:17 |
    This also highlights the importance of not allowing a grudge to create bitterness in your life - I heard it said once that unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. Love the thoughts in this blog - it is really about living life deliberately and thoughtfully.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:49 |
      I like that quote Tania. "unforgiveness is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die" - good stuff.

      Thanks for reading!
    • Larry J Rutledge

      Larry J Rutledge

      09 April 2013 at 23:00 |
      Wow! I've never heard that poison thing before, but that is exactly it! So glad you shared that.

      We sometimes have the misconception that to forgive someone lets them off the hook, or says that we are now in agreement with them. That is not the case at all. Forgiving someone actually says that you fully acknowledge what they have done, regardless of what it is, and acknowledge its egregiousness; yet you no longer hold that against them. That does not "let them off the hook", it simply releases our heart.

      When God forgives us He then treats us as though that never happened. But that does not mean we are "off the hook". There are consequences to actions. When King David's adulterous, murderous relationship led to a baby; God still forgave him when he repented, but the consequence had already been set in motion and the baby still died. Forgiveness does not erase the result, only the action.

      Unforgiveness only hurts the one holding the unforgiveness, it does not hurt the one not being forgiven.
  • Dave Arnold

    Dave Arnold

    05 April 2013 at 00:26 |
    Good stuff, Justin! I pray Ephesians 4:29
    everyday, and make it my goal to only use words to build people up. I don't always do it; but I am thankful it's. becoming more of a habit.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:50 |
      Thanks for reading Dave!
  • melissa

    melissa

    05 April 2013 at 04:29 |
    I totally agree! And Love the encouragement. One question, though...what happens when you're trying really hard to develop that relational capital with a person and they repeatedly misunderstand your motives? Or, when your best attempts at relationship and community is not received?
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      09 April 2013 at 21:52 |
      Thanks for your comments Melissa. Good question. When you're trying to build that capital and they misunderstand. hmmm. Geez, I have no idea. I guess eventually you just know it's not gonna happen. It's a case by case thing of course. But that's a great question.
  • Amy

    Amy

    23 April 2013 at 14:18 |
    Justin! This is so good. I missed our ten year reunion, out of state at the time, but I wish I could have gone! Your insight here is so right on, gives so much food for thought. Thank you! So good to *see* you after, what, over ten years :)
  • Arlen Miller

    Arlen Miller

    02 September 2013 at 19:27 |
    "As I've started on this journey of helping people do work that matters and attempt to do it myself, I've realized that one of our greatest human assets is relational capital."

    I "met" you about an hour ago via this website, Justin and you have certainly demonstrated this truth straight out of your own life. Especially that last line. Wow. I'm blown away, big time. Thanks, Justin!

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