What will they say at your awkward circle?

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

In my department, we have a tradition where we say goodbye to an outgoing employee by standing around in an awkward circle and telling stories about their time with the organization. Due to the large size of our department and how we’re divided into brand teams, there usually ends up being only a few close colleagues that share stories. It’s a really nice (and often hilarious) way to honour a colleague on their way out of the organization.

This past Friday, we had  an awkward circle for a colleague who had been with the organization for nearly four years – a lifetime considering the average tenure at my company is less than two years. In an unprecedented event, everyone (nearly 30 people) had a story to tell. It was so fascinating and inspiring to see the impact that one individual could make on such a large group of people.

And although there were some slightly inappropriate stories about drinking, most of the common threads woven through the stories were about my colleague’s strong work ethic, great sense of humour, and never-ending energy that enabled him to work hard and party hard. Nearly all of the people that reported to him said that he was one of the best bosses they had ever had. That is powerful stuff!

As I stood there (awkwardly), listening to the stories, I started to ask myself the question: “What will they say at my awkward circle?” This forced me to have a difficult conversation with myself about what kind of legacy I wanted to leave in this organization, and more importantly, what I needed to change about my actions and behaviours in order to make that future a reality.

What will they say at your awkward circle?