A lesson in making a mark from twenty feet in the air

Have you ever had an epiphany while suspended twenty feet above the ground?

Yea, me too.

It happened at work a few months back. I’m a Visual Merchandiser—a fancy title that means someone who tries to display stuff in a cool way so that people will buy it—and I was on a mechanical lift, removing a display that had been up since the store opened over six years ago. My coworker and I were pulling old boards off the wall, not really paying attention, just joking around (which is really smart to do in the air at dangerous heights) and as I peeled back another section of wood, something caught my eye.

This was written on the wall. It said,

A-Team 2006. Quentin, Dave. IKEA’s best.

I thought, “Who are Quentin and Dave?” I knew a few Daves, but I had never met a Quentin at work. Then it dawned on me. This was written by two guys on the construction team that built the store almost seven years ago. They put the boards on the wall that I was taking apart, and apparently they wanted to leave a message to anybody that would come along, something to be remembered by.

I pulled out my phone (Shh, don’t tell my boss.) and I took a picture, because something about it registered with me. See, at first it didn’t seem that significant. So what? You got on a machine and mounted boards to a wall. But the more I thought about it the more it resonated.These guys left a mark. They had no idea when someone would come along and discover them, what they had done, their contribution to the success of the store. There was no way to be sure that anyone would even notice the writing on the wall. But they wrote it down and kept working.

It took me over six years to uncover the “A-Team.” I had walked down that aisle a hundred times before. I looked at that display without once thinking about what might be behind it. But one morning, long after the ink dried, I connected with two guys I will probably never meet.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I don’t think I will ever forget about Quentin and Dave. To me they represent something amazing. Sometimes I sit at my computer, working on a blog or a story, and I wonder if any of it really matters. I mean, how many people are going to even read this post? Will I be remembered for anything significant? Then I think about the random morning I spent on a platform in the sky. I think about the two men who wrote their names with no guarantee of ever being recognized, yet they did what they were called to do. Several years later I found them, and now I am telling their story.

Are you an artist who thinks about setting the brush down and walking away?

A leader who wonders if you are having any impact?

A writer in obscurity, thinking about giving up on your dream because no one reads your work?

A musician ready to sell the equipment and let the dream die?

Don’t you dare.

Keep doing what you were made to do. Why did you start in the first place? It’s not going to be easy. Nothing of value ever is. So, pull out a fresh canvas, develop those characters, tune your guitar and get back to work. Keep walking in the right direction, and, if you were meant to lead, eventually someone will follow. I can’t promise you will ever be a household name, but I am willing to bet at least one person will be impacted by what you do. And that is worth it all.

So go ahead. Make your mark. You never know what might happen.

Have you ever had an epiphany in a random place? Share your story in the comments below. 

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