An Epiphany

There I was, speaking in front of the entire conference audience, giving the closing session. When I finally had an Epiphany! But it hit with such a strong emotional force, I was frozen in place, unable to speak, and started to cry…

This is a short story told in three parts.

Part 1 – The backstory

I’ve been in the network computing industry for nearly 30 years. And during those years I’ve found myself, at times, being envious of others. I know many of these petty jealousies do not make logical sense – but they are in my thoughts, nonetheless.

Looking at others with their high-powered jobs, starting hugely successful companies, or being at the cutting edge of technology, I get a little jealous. There are friends who have led the industry by making the inflection points in our technology happen. While I’ve not done anything big or life changing.

There have been those with stock options, paychecks that magically show up in their bank accounts every other week. I’ve chosen a career where I must track down each and every invoice in order to earn a living.

Others who have been poached from one job to the next because of their skills and abilities to get things done. It would feel nice to be wanted that much.

Still others who have had exciting and wonderful challenges to build technical solutions that seem to be better than my sometimes-mundane projects.

Many of my friends and colleagues can ENJOY exercise and appreciate the benefits of having that ‘runners high’. Sadly, I share none of that.

There are those who somehow find the time and energy to work on new technologies, experimenting, learning, and writing about those experiences to share with the rest of us. I’m jealous of their time but I’ve always been too busy doing other things.

Since I was at a conference, I was also thinking of all those who seem to have no fear of speaking and look and sound confident and at ease on stage.

There are also those who remember people’s names, can be extremely friendly and have become the heart of our industry through their personalities.

I freely admit, I’ve been jealous and have wanted many of those things. Not that those things mentioned are wrong, they are good metrics, and should be sought after. But I felt a bit less because I didn’t make choices to put me on those paths or have the personality or traits I saw as valuable in others.

Part 2 – The Gifts

There I was, at the 10th anniversary party about to give away some door prizes, when the first surprise happened.

Thanks to some wonderful friends, I was given a very rare, and quite exquisite gift. Something very few people ever receive.

Before I could really start, a video began behind me, and scores of short testimonial videos began to play. Friends, colleagues, and conference attendees all telling me how the conference we built, as well as me personally had positively touched not only their lives, but their careers, and then effected their very families.

What a wonderful gift! To see and hear that your decisions and actions have made changes for good in the world around you. I felt extremely blessed to have that knowledge that I didn’t do too bad.

While standing there, basking in the warmth of that tribute, I had the thought, “I only wish my wife and children could see this… maybe they could understand the other side of my life a bit better”.

Then the second gift of the evening happened. My four adult children, their spouses, and my lovely wife came out of hiding to surprise me. Yeah, there were tears for sure then!

With my wife standing beside me, our children then spoke and told some short stories of how they saw growing up in our household, from their point of view. It felt great to hear them speak of things that we tried to do as parents. Then to realize we didn’t do too bad.

Knowing your family loves you, and that your children made good choices in companions, and have started to build their own families – and doing great things with their children…  That is also an exquisite and rare gift indeed.

Part 3 – The Epiphany

You’d think I would have noticed something the night of the two gifts… but I was too busy being the host of the party and finishing those things I thought needed to be done. I kind of put off thinking through what had just happened.

So it wasn’t until the next day, at the very end of the conference, when giving the closing recap session that the epiphany happened.

I had spent the morning thinking back of all the fine people who had helped with the conference, and yes, some of those petty jealousies came to mind.

With that in the back of my thoughts, I started the closing talk. Part of what I like to do in the final session is to remind people of the highlights of their last few days together. I thought of the previous evening’s events and the valuable gifts I’d received, then the epiphany hit me like an emotional ton of bricks.

I don’t need to be anyone else.

It is good enough to just be me.


With that sure knowledge, I froze, stopped talking and was overcome with emotion.


Be Nice

Be Happy

Be Grateful

Be Satisfied

Be You… just be you.