What kind of person do you want to be in five years?

A handful of years ago I worked as a visit coordinator and admissions counselor for a small New York City college, a job that had several very satisfying aspects. One part I especially loved was the team dynamic. While the position involved a challenging individual workload that allowed me space to sometimes fly solo, it also required me to operate as a member of a group, working together with five men and one woman to reach our shared goals. My time in that office taught me so much about compromise, reasonable expectations, speaking up, listening quietly, adapting to differences, embracing a solution-oriented mindset, among other things.

Our team leader was a solid dude, and incredibly gifted at navigating our ship and guiding us through difficult challenges. He would regularly schedule daylong retreats at various spots in the City, caving out time to not only evaluate our progress and strategize about our future endeavors, but also to have fun and enjoy each other. A couple of admirably goofy guys in the group helped us all to lighten up and laugh a lot.

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 9.11.28 AMAt one of our first bonding experiences my boss asked a poignant question: “What kind of person do you want to be in five years?” The answers were pretty standard, but for some reason one reply was imprinted with crystal clarity on my mind and heart. The words were from a dear colleague my age—a hilarious Brit who has this brilliant way of really seeing and loving people right where they are, no matter how messy or immaculate that spot may be. He responded to the question boldly, sharing that he wanted to be like a bucket continually filled with God’s love and that whenever he encountered someone, he wanted that love to splash out all over them. The mental image struck me.

I reflect today, a day almost exactly five years after that question left my boss’s mouth. Though I no longer see my friend and former colleague on a daily basis, I am almost certain that he has grown more and more into the vision that he expressed so many moons back. Having adopted his desire that day, I hope I have made progress too.

What kind of person do you want to be in five years?