Memories can be capricious. Some people remember things more favourably than they actually were, and others seem to remember things as having been far worse than they actually were.
I read the line, "the memory is stronger than the experience itself" in a novel recently. It was referring to a past relationship. It made me wonder if my memories on past relationships are accurate, or whether I've romanticized them a little.
Then I got thinking about how that might apply to our professional lives, particularly when we're thinking of changing jobs.
What do you remember about your last job? Do you remember that you enjoyed it, that you worked with great people, and that for the most part it was a good fit for you? Or, do you remember that one person who made your life a living nightmare and can't remember what made you stay there as long as you did?
Your memory of that job is likely stronger than the experience itself. Most people I ask either remember all that was good about the experience and forget the bad parts; or they remember only the bad, and forget the good.
Which brings me to my point: What do people remember about you?
Will you be the co-worker, the employee, the friend who is remembered favourably? Or the person who left the company in a lurch, unprofessionally and burned bridges behind them?
What you remember about your past employer isn't nearly as important as what your past employer remembers about you (and passes on to anyone who asks about you professionally).
Are you burning bridges, or learning to deal with difficult situations with tact, professionalism and calm? Are you constantly complaining about your company/boss/ co-workers and everything they do wrong or are you a positive force in the firm? When you mess up, do you own it and apologize, or do you blame others?
My professional contacts could help me or hurt me, depending on my actions.
In my personal life, I much prefer to have relationships end on friendly terms. There have been times when I may have wanted to say a thing or two, but I have generally held back. I'm glad, because I'd like to think that those men who lurk in my past, remember me favourably and think "I wish...."
Professionally, I have always made it a point to not burn bridges. There are contracts, clients and co-workers with whom I choose never to work with again, but I haven't felt the need to mention it to them. I've kept the information to myself, knowing that the future has much in store for me, and my professional contacts could help me or hurt me, depending on my actions.
Create experiences, both personally and professionally, that will be remembered positively by others. While you cannot completely control what people remember and what they don't, you can certainly help create memories that are positive.
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