This week, I spoke with friends from school after a long time.
We just picked off from where we had left years ago, and the usual laughter, random ideas, intense discussions peppered our conversation. As we talked, I realized something important.
We often focus on change. We track what we learned, how we grew.
We however ignore what hasn’t changed. And yet, it is the latter that usually allows authentic friendships over long, sustained periods. Pick a friend from your childhood, teens, or early workdays – there was likely resonance at a fundamental level. You can pick up the phone and have an unbelievably fun, stress-free conversation right now with no qualms.
What hasn’t changed is what defines you as a person.
I look back at my notes from the Strengths Finders training – it says your traits remain the same since childhood, and so do your strengths. The priority of the strengths displayed may change, but not the strengths themselves.
Interestingly, Jeff Bezos has nailed this focus on things not changing in his approach to business – here’s him talking about this:
I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”