Many years ago, I had the privilege of working with a very wise man. We were in a bit of a crisis, a delayed computer conversion with significant dollars on the line. Because of the delay, the go live date overlapped with a planned vacation that included my children. I was bracing myself for the harsh reality of needing to tell them that we wouldn’t be going, when he asked a simple question:
Who will remember?
I gave that question a lot of thought and decided to proceed with the vacation. After all, the thought that I would someday be laying on my death bed and have my children remind me of the time I cancelled their trip was too much to contemplate.
The alternative also struck me as a harsh reality, the likelihood of any of my co-workers or bosses being present to thank me for my sacrifice of a family vacation was close to zero.
An impossible choice in the moment becomes so much clearer when viewed as the memory it will create.