I had to give a talk, an important one. It was my first big talk in front of an important audience and it meant something to me. And I had worked hard towards it. A few minutes before the talk, J walked in. J is my colleague – well more than a colleague. He’s a dear friend now, someone I care about and someone that cares about me. He’s my go-to person when I want to learn things. He’s almost a mentor of sorts. And we share a very warm equation at and outside of work.
People walked into the room and started filling the seats. J sat down on a chair opposite mine. We couldn’t talk. I looked at him. J smiled and enacted biting his nails, asking me if I was nervous. I smiled as if to say, ‘meh’! And we both laughed.
The talk went very well. I did better than I had even imagined. Everyone was listening to me with rapt attention; they were tuned in. I could see that people appreciated my efforts and were enjoying my presentation. There was a good scientific discussion stimulated by the talk and that was most important for me. The feedback was great. I thoroughly enjoyed the 45 minutes I stood before them explaining what I had done so far and saying what I intended to do in the near future. They gave me excellent suggestions as well.
Post the talk I stood there talking to another colleague about my work and discussing some things with him. J waited to speak to me but I was kept busy by others. He decided to interrupt the conversation for a second. He walked up to me and said these exact words – “Remind me to tell you something very important but Very Well Done!” He had a big smile on his face.
The way J looked at me in that moment…it was such an important moment for me, a moment I will cherish forever. He was genuinely happy that I had done well. He had enjoyed the presentation very much. Nobody was going to congratulate him for how the talk went, the praise was all for me. And they are probably never going to acknowledge his contribution to my steep learning curve. But in spite of that, he was just genuinely happy. It’s rare these days for people to be selflessly happy for others. And there was more to that look.
He was proud!
And that, to me, was the biggest compliment of all 🙂