Each of us has to own up to having a little of an ego. Admit it; it makes you feel good to receive credit for some idea, action, or creation you are responsible for. I can be as humble as the next guy, but I’ve got to admit there are times when I feel slighted when someone else receives credit for something I did. I can’t help it; it’s the little boy in me tugging on my mom’s skirt saying, “Mommy, look what I did.”
Over the years I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice biting my tongue on such occasions. Being a consultant, I occasionally come up with a really good idea. Having worked in the field of municipal planning for over thirty years a few of those really good ideas have been implemented across north Texas. When I drive through a community and see aspects of the city plan built as I proposed it should be, I quietly smile and say to myself, “See, I told them that would work.”
Occasionally I will be at a meeting where leaders of the community will be touting some study or plan they use as the gospel to guide them in the development of their neighborhood, I wait for them to say, “By the way, Dan wrote this plan and is here with us today.” Well, usually I just wait without any recognition. In most instances the mayor or council receives the credit as well as the praise for the marvelous plan.
On one such occasion I had a planning director of a community say, “I would have recognized you as the author, but since you were paid to do this, I figured it was just part of your job.” I suppose I should be ashamed that I received payment for work and efforts expended on their city. Perhaps I should have done it for free; that way I could have slept without shame at night. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have had a bed to sleep in or a roof over my head.
What difference does it make that I received payment for an honest service rendered? Should credit not be given where credit is due? Of course it should; however, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve done this long enough to know that consultants don’t count; they are faceless and forgotten once the plan is adopted. So be it. But, just every now and then it would be nice for someone to say, “Thank you; you did a great job.” It's not as if I'm asking for an Oscar or a Nobel Prize.
Next week I will have the opportunity to attend a meeting where a progressive community will be presenting their efforts and methodology in developing an historic plan of their old town area. They have already cited in the promotion material the historic document they are using as a guide through the process. As I read the material I recognized that the document is one I prepared for them almost twenty years ago. No one at the city was there when the plan was prepared. This staff does not have a clue that I wrote the thing. Nevertheless, I will be sitting in the audience listening to how they implement the plan realizing that I did that thing.
I’ll probably nudge the guy sitting next to me and whisper, “That’s my plan; I wrote it.” To which I will probably get the response, “Sure you did.”