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Giving thanks in 2018

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It’s the last post of 2018, and in years past I’ve recapped the year that has just been. This is a little different however. I want to talk a bit about community, and two unexpected interactions I’ve had this month.

As some of you know, I have an interest in the performing arts. I’m currently in the process of directing a play that will debut in February 2019 for a run of eight performances. During the auditioning process, I worked with a lot of talented actors in the Calgary community theatre scene, and found myself challenged to cast the right people. There’s so much more than acting ability to take into account when casting a show. Superficially, an actor must look and sound the part of the character. They must also be able to take direction; a community theatre production is unpaid and we only have seven or eight weeks to rehearse, which means no time for egos. Then we explore how they act and react with others, and the all-important but intangible chemistry.

After a particularly busy callback session, where six actors were vying for the two remaining roles, I made my decision (ably assisted by my two assistant directors and the producer), and informed four extremely talented and well-regarded people that they were not selected. This is the hardest part of a production in my opinion: getting the right people in a room to put on a show. It has so many parallels with management, and to be completely honest, I didn’t even realize it myself until a conversation I had with someone in July.

After the bad news was delivered to the unselected actors, one of them replied back that it is a bucket list item of theirs to work with me on the stage, and that hopefully another opportunity would present itself.

Readers, believe me when I can’t describe how this made me feel. I’ve had minor success in television and independent film, but that has never really crossed over to the stage. I’ve acted in exactly two plays since moving to Calgary in 2012. I’ve co-produced one other play, and directed two one-acts for the festival that took place earlier this year. For someone to have that much faith in me that they’ve made it a bucket list item, was extremely humbling.

The second interaction I want to mention followed an incident that took place last week, in the technical sphere. I had a customer that I helped move 50 databases to Azure in 2016 (with minimal downtime), and since then have helped out here and there where budgets aligned with availability. The point is, my contact with them has been brief ever since. One of their employees reached out to me and asked how they too could become an Azure expert like I am. Once again, I was extremely humbled by this question.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert in Azure (or stagecraft for that matter). I have been extremely lucky in my life, and that has extended to fancy footwork long enough to figure stuff out.

However, these two events did help me realize that what I do makes a difference. Whether it is working with my customers, co-authoring books, directing plays, or even writing on this blog; it all matters to someone, somewhere. It matters to them, and that matters to me. In 2004 and 2005 I tried my hand at teaching professionally, and that bug never went away.

Thank you to the two people who said those humbling things to me. That makes up for all the other times where I haven’t known if what I’m doing matters.

Thank you too, dear reader, for coming back every week to share what’s going on in my brain. Thank you to the people inside my phone I interact with daily on Twitter and Instagram. Most of all, thank you to my long-suffering spouse who makes this all possible.

2019 is going to be a blast. Whatever you create in the world, no matter how small, someone will take notice. Do it for you, and do it for them.

And, if someone pays you a compliment, say “thank you” without making a fuss, especially if it isn’t normally easy for you to accept compliments. Sometimes the best “thank you” is a “thank you.”

Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash.