“Your Work Will Impact People’s Lives”

In some ways, “government acquisition” (the process of the government buying things) is as boring as it sounds. Even the simplest purchases can require an almost endless amount of paperwork, and it literally takes years for many decisions to be made. So, many government workers naturally view acquisition as the least exhilarating part of their job. But not every government worker sees it that way. A friend who works for the government was recently taking an acquisition class, and was pleasantly surprised to find a really energetic instructor. She obviously cared about her work as an acquisition professional and wanted her students to care about acquisitions too.

At one point she said to them “your work will impact people’s lives.”

It seems like a pretty strong statement for a field that, in day-to-day execution, is not known for excitement or a sense of a strong impact.

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A Simple Notecard

I happened to be rummaging through a colleague’s desk not too long ago (with permission!).

I came across a notecard that had a name, date, some niceties, and random topics on it. After I’d seen 4 or 5 of these cards, I realized they were my colleague's way of reminding himself what he wanted to accomplish in a given interaction.

I smiled to myself. This guy is a nice, somewhat irreverent, confident gentleman. I would have assumed he strolled into most meetings and automatically fell into normal chit-chat, knew which high points he had to hit, and moved on.

As it turns out, he was intentional when he went into meetings. He wrote down the person’s name, some personal details (their spouse’s name, hometown, or favorite sports team), and the topics he wanted to cover.

I’ve been to a number of meetings with this colleague and never saw him pull out a notecard. With just the simple act of writing these things down, he was much more effective in meetings by building personal bonds with people and knowing what business he wanted to complete.

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