I work for a small organization. There are only five full time employees, and two of us work out of my office building. As a result, the two of us, Pete and I, have become pretty good friends, mostly through persuasion and my own food bribery because let’s be honest, I’m not above buying friendship.
Pete is 86. For three reasons, I never worry when I tell Pete something that it will leave the vault of his mind. One, I’m never sure he completely listens to me, or more accurately, hears me. Two, I don’t know that what I say doesn’t go in one ear and right out the other. And third – perhaps what I hold as the most important – he has integrity , which is interwoven into his character. He never uses information as currency to get ahead in any way.
Think of a typical day at work. You almost always hear personal information about people in your office. If your office is like most, you likely hear gossip on a daily basis. And quite possibly, you work with those people who look at information as coins dropping gleefully in their piggy bank. Clink, clink, clink. They have information currency that they can re-circulate as many times as they see fit.
I don’t necessarily believe that at their core, these people are truly malicious. Maybe I’m “glass half-full”, and maybe some of them are, too. I just think that some people get ahead by taking information and distributing it, no matter who it hurts in the process. They are information bankers.
Truly though, what is that currency’s value? How much is the going rate for a piece of juicy gossip?
I’ve seen gossip run wild too many times before. I like to think that I lean more on the Pete end of the spectrum than the information banker side, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been told information a time or two or twenty. I have, but it’s not my information to share. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a “banker’s” transaction. My life has been the currency a lot, exchanging hands at will. And it sucks.
Let’s flip those coins another way.
The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency you have in life.
Let that sink in for a minute.
When I first heard that in a commencement speech by comedian and actor Jim Carrey, I was almost blown off my feet. Who knew that Ace Ventura was so immensely deep? Alrighty, then!
Do you want to be known as an information superhighway with a mouth that moves faster than Wi-Fi? Is that the effect you want to leave behind as a legacy for others? I don’t. I want my effect on others to truly mean something. I want to be a person who does good things and makes the correct decisions, not the popular ones.
People often wait until New Year’s, the start of a month, or some other randomly-chosen day to “be the change.” Why? Why wait? If you want to be a different person, if you want your effect on others to shine through, there is no time like the present. Start today.
Pass on the gossip. Don’t be an information banker. Be a Pete.