Just the other day, I was thinking about what a strange year it’s been when I recalled a scene from Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. The Red Queen offers advice to Alice, who finds herself running intensely, but not actually moving forward: “Now, here, you see,” says the Red Queen, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Over the last several months, it feels as though the world has shifted under our feet. We’ve all had to keep running just to stay in place. And that’s why I’m so grateful that running hard this year brought me to a very exciting and humbling moment last week. I was again honored to be recognized in the Best Software CFO category of Institutional Investor’s 2021 Survey of Software Executives, after receiving the same recognition last year. This recognition is truly a reflection of the strength, support, and dedication of my team.
As I share this proud moment with all of you, I‘d like to share seven quotes I’ve treasured over the years. They’ve not only helped guide me, but they’ve also taught me to always remember to laugh. I hope they do the same for you.
1. Everybody wants to help save the earth, but nobody wants to help mom do the dishes. Working from home and watching my kids study online has been (mostly) fun and family-fusing, although I’m sure it’s been a bit more frustrating for my wife, who’s had all of us interfering with her routine. While I’m solving “earth-shattering” issues at work, I’m also guilty of overlooking simple opportunities to help those closest to me.
2. It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid and then don’t say it. This one is both obvious and difficult. I’m still trying to perfect it.
3. After the ship has sunk, a consultant knows how it might have been saved. I’ve learned that taking small actions, asking basic but sometimes uncomfortable questions, often helps avoid some large icebergs. The key to staying afloat is the mistakes you don’t make while you try to get the job done.
4. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away and you have their shoes. Ok, this one is a bit tongue in cheek, but the first part is what really matters. Not that I always succeed at this, but over the years I’ve learned to show empathy. Especially this year, I’ve appreciated the often challenging circumstances all our employees are in, and I’ve tried to lend a shoulder or an ear, when needed.
5. There is always free cheese in a mousetrap. I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that things that bewitch need to be considered with a healthy dose of skepticism. Slowing it down has worked for me.
6. Some say the glass is half-empty, some say the glass is half-full. I say, when are you going to drink? It’s always good to analyze things from multiple perspectives. Ultimately, though, it’s about getting started, taking action, and treating failures as time-released successes.
7. If no one took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the “Sistine Floor.” Sometimes, even when the chances of succeeding are low, I’ve painted the ceiling. You’d be surprised how many more people looked up.
It’s certainly been a year where we’ve all felt like we’re running “twice as hard.” But as Alice also says, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” We’ve all learned so much about what we’re capable of during the past year. Take a moment to appreciate all that you accomplished, the growth you have shown, and above all, those that have helped you along the way. And, of course, take a moment to help out with the dishes.