Angus: “Who’s got lucky?”

Picking up a car from the airport, I overheard a conversation which included those words. It seemed inappropriate to me, until I discovered ‘lucky’ was a pet.. I laughed out loud, to the confusion of the other people in the Avis line.It was then I realized I had been happy a lot this week. This 2009 COMMON annual conference was quite an amazing event.

Arriving in the post-conference relax-a-little hotel in South Lake Tahoe this afternoon, I asked some of the people in the elevator about which conference they were attending. After identifying their organization, they commented that it was down about half – “due to the economy”. Almost every conference I have heard about recently has suffered a similar ‘fate’. Yet, the energy and enthusiasm at the COMMON event was rather incredible.

One indication of the upbeat naturewas the positive reaction from the expo vendors – the majority of whom considered the audience to be more highly qualified than they had expected. Anotherwas the number of attendees in the PowerDowns – the evening social and networking events. The camaraderie and networking was a wondrous sight to behold. Despite the economic climate, this conference can be considered as one of the best from COMMON.

Personally, I lived and learned a lot this year and during this week. In February I was thrown a very special surprise birthday party and was honored by the very special guests who attended – my friends. Right before that party, I was diagnosed with third nerve palsy on my left eye that caused double vision. The hospital visit for the tests to discover the cause meant I almost missed my own birthday party. I was assured that my friends would have had my party regardless, celebration or wake! I saw how amazing my friends were, and how true. With a loss of vision, I have clarity. I am honored.

This week, one of my least favorite activities was to get punched in the face – with a concrete floor. During breakfast on Thursday morning, I fainted and went down. I recovered quickly, but it was my friends who came to my aid, and my friends who checked up on me for the rest of the conference. I am honored.

The importance of friends became more apparent when I inadvertently spoke some words to a friend of mine that were extremely inappropriate, questioned their integrity, and caused a rift between us. My realization of the complete inappropriateness of my words was a revelation, and the struggle to regain the confidence of my friend was difficult. Because we were friends, we had a chance to connect and resolve the logistical differences, and most importantly, understand that their integrity was never in question. While the emotional pain will take time to heal, I am confident our friendship will be stronger. I am honored.

Another honor this week was to be voted to the board of directors. While I have been given no specific instructions on how I must or should behave, my approach is to be the best for the organization as my skills and talents will allow. This requires listening to the members (some of whom happen to be my friends), being impartial, seeing the big picture, applying creativity and common sense to the tasks at hand, being strategic and tactical, and making the best contribution I can. I am honored.

And then, the last smack in the face – I was warned by a fellow member about my board activities. Their suggestion was that I should be careful not to do anything that would be to the benefit of my friends and, by implication, to the detriment of the organization who has trusted me to be on their board. It has taken me some time to come to grips with this statement, but clarity has reigned. Not a single one of my friends would ever accuse me of a bias like that, and in fact, most people who know me understand the level of integrity to which I aspire, and would never accuse me of this bias. I am now forearmed about those who have ulterior motives, and this is empowering. In spite of the (completely unnecessary) warning, I am honored.

What ~I~ learned this week – I got lucky. My friends are not only important, but trust me, understand my integrity, and treat me with respect. It is mutual.

Go discover ~your~ friends.

Get to it..

Leave a comment

Your comment