I once took a 12 week neuroscience course. I can’t quite remember when it was, but I do remember how interesting and informative it was…and how much it seemed we still don’t really understand about memory and learning and brain function.
I do remember it was a long time ago. And I remember at least a couple of the people I met and worked with on that course…colleagues who I am still in touch with via LinkedIn. It’s a general scenario I find…I can remember vividly who I was with…I am pretty sure where we were…yet I can’t really remember exactly what we were doing and sometimes even why….although more often than not it was related to a big change of strategy or leadership or direction…or even all three together.
I reassure myself that this selective memory is just human nature. Friendships and people and relationships are simply of higher ore importance and more significance to us than are events and dates…unless of course both merge into one – like weddings and birthdays and even funerals.
And I find this selective memory to be very reassuring. An old boss of mine once pointed out to me (and yes I am not sure when this happened or where we were) that life would be much less enjoyable if we all remembered the dates and the meeting agenda but couldn’t remember who was there with us.
I worked for a long time in my last company’s research centre in the UK – I was there through good times, very good times and not so good times and very tough times. But if I ever meet up with anyone who worked at the same time and place as me, I guarantee that we only ever talk (and laugh) about the absolute best times and the very best people. And I am certain that we merge events together in those conversations…the best moments of any number of different occasions…to almost create even better times!
But again this is good and fine…and even if the moments we recreate didn’t actually happen in the way we describe and enjoy…they are still the memories that we have…for better or for even better!
I learned almost everything I know about our industry, our processes and our people in that same time, but even those learning moments inevitably focus on teams and people and stories…rather than dates and locations.
I found myself thinking about what we remember over this weekend as I helped my daughter move house again. She has graduated and is moving on with her life. We are so proud and so excited…
Over dinner last night my wife and I reminisced with our daughter about our first apartment after we left university. And sure enough we remembered – vividly – the good times. The fun and the friends, and the parties. We have conveniently forgotten anything about that time that was less…well less anything.
We create memories with other people, and the good news is that being with others and doing good work together can be enjoyable and satisfying together. As someone else once said (actually I think this one is a quote from a movie) ‘If you think about it, your favourite memories, the most important moments in your life… were you alone? Life’s better with company.’
And this applies every bit as much to our life in work as well as it does to our life outside of work. We need to know each other, trust each other and understand each other. We need to invest in our partners….strengthen our relationships…enhance our comfort levels and understanding. Joint memories are created when experiences are shared.