I recently attended my high school class reunion. It's amazing how old many of my classmates have become. Ours was a small class, 54 students total, so at least we all knew each other. Of course with a core that small, it made sense to combine our reunion with a couple of other classes to get a decent turnout. We, the class of 1971, were the guests of the class of 1972, which arranged the get together. The class of 1973 was also invited. Technically that made this our 31st graduation anniversary, a goofy number that I felt duty bound to explain away to friends as confusion over the millennium. If the year 2000 doesn't count, we're cool.
It was fun to see these people who were so influential on each other as we passed from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. I also enjoyed seeing the permanence of many of my schoolmates' early personality traits. The antisocial ones, well they simply stayed away, even though several still live in our hometown. The quiet ones are still quiet, and the boisterous ones continue to dominate any scene. Even a small gathering like this illustrates the variety of personalities, which is what made me want to attend in the first place.
Requirements of reunions are to talk about what kind of work you're involved in and bring in pictures of your kids. Indeed, we even had a few grandparents in our midst, which is a fact my mind dismissed through denial—no way people I knew as children can have grandchildren. It's fun to hear about how life has treated these old friends. Some have done very well materially. Some are less rich in money but are wealthy in their peace of mind. And there are combinations of both. A few of our schoolmates are still quite crazy.
During the 3 hour drive back from my hometown I reflected on the weekend. I cherish these people for the place they hold in my childhood memories and in my adult personality. They helped form who I am—for better or worse—and will remain a part of me forever, I guess.
Like the formative years spent in class with people whose influence on my personality was a learning experience, my professional career also has been molded by a variety of influences. In business I have always tried to approach my work as a student. I look at the people I meet, the technology I'm exposed to, the strategies I hear about and the numerous ways that problems are solved as lessons. As with the role of my classmates in school, co-workers, customers and readers play a critical role helping me form my adult, professional personality. I don't see the two dynamics as different at all.