The Dash: The Meat & Meaning of Every Endeavor

Written by Paige Dawson Rodriguez on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Over the weekend I attended a memorial service for my Cousin Johnny Moore. He had a wonderful, fulfilling 83+ years, so it was a celebration. On the drive to East Texas my Facebook feed popped up this most appropriate image from SoulSeeds. So fitting.

More fitting than I imagined: Johnny’s stepdaughter read a poem entitled The Dash by Linda Ellis during the service…The meaning of life

The essence: Your life is made of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash.

The translation: Your life is made of your date of birth and date of death with a dash between.

The poem is poignant and certainly had me pondering my life, efforts and impact—my dash. On the two hour drive home, I contemplated the dash concept in other contexts:

  1. As founders of companies: the day we found a company and the day we exit (via a sell or succession plan or, hopefully not, shuttering the doors).
  2. For everyone who starts a career or job: the day we start and the day we depart (via resignation, termination or layoff).

 

This small dash encompasses so many moments and days, yet also leaves so much unsaid. The dash is the meaning—or meat—of every endeavor. The dash represents your results and reputation. The concept reminds me to be in the moment and to make the most of every interaction, as they are over in a flash, or in this context…a dash.

To some, the dash may even mean living as if each day is your last day. A quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer summed it up as: “A lot of people say, ‘This is the first day of the rest of my life.’ I prefer to think, ‘This is the last day of my life. And I am going to live it as if I don’t have any more.” Not necessarily in a morbid sense, rather in the sense of making the most of each day—doing something significant or worthwhile for yourself, your business and those around you.

In the workplace, being mindful of the dash (the hours spent in the office each day) is significant when it comes to being both successful and happy. I’ll share three takeaways that I plan to reintroduce in my life with this concept in mind:

  1. Read your vision or mission statement every Monday morning to remind yourself of your goals at the start of each week with an eye toward the bigger picture. What am I committed to doing? What do I want to create? Why does it matter?
  2. Focus every day and use tools to maximize productivity and stay the course. We use several techniques in our office from effective calendaring and a Glip project management system to a process of sharing our top two daily goals with our team.
    • Additionally, I read constantly for ideas and tips. Two great mentors for me in this setting are Ron Webb @rwebb_apqc and Kevin Kruse @Kruse. Another friend of mine has a Post-It note taped to her monitor that reads: Is this the absolute best use of my time?
  3. Always be gracious and say thank you and do it every chance you get. When I started my career, I began a tactic of sending personal handwritten thank you notes every week to people who had an impact on my week, achieved some goal, supported me or met me. I’ve been beyond humbled to hear through the years of the impact those notes had on the recipients. Even better appreciating the words and actions of others enriches my dash, as well as theirs.
    • The practice of sending mailed notes was well engrained from my childhood, so this was a natural extension. I’ve slipped a bit in regularity with the constant juggling of running a business, household, husband, and toddler, so I’m committing to up my game. Ironically during Johnny’s service his children and grandchildren shared his panache for sending personal notes of inspiration as well as daily devotionals. Seems the knack for note writing is in my blood (hopefully, I’ll pass that to our daughter as well).

 

Beyond these practices, I’ve found little memory triggers help me stay in the moment. My bathroom counter has a little silver paperweight with the saying, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, goes unnoticed.” The quick reminder helps me start and end my day with an eye toward gratitude, both expressing and receiving.

We never know how long our dash may be, so let’s make our dashes left count.

About Paige Dawson Rodriguez

Paige Dawson RodriguezWith expertise in marketing, business strategy and public relations, as well as ‘in the trenches’ experience as a business owner, Paige Dawson Rodriguez brings a unique blend of talent to clients. As president and founder of MPD Ventures Company, Paige works with executives and entrepreneurs throughout the country to develop key messages, marketing strategies and measurable campaigns, driven by client business goals. She has extensive experience providing counsel for professional service firms, technology companies, associations and nonprofits.