Over the years, I have often wondered what set my direction, what got me to make what I like to call “hinge pin” decisions in my life. Some of the things in my life have been relatively constant. I like to believe that things like my faith, my integrity, my morality and my convictions have been relatively stable, though they have certainly fluctuated over the years. Hinge pin decisions are those things that take people in very different directions, or making significant decisions that change the course of their existence.

I think, very often, hinge pin decisions are almost always caused by people. More to the point, they are caused by one or two people, where a deep and profound connection is made. A best friend growing up can have a profound effect on the way that you view yourself, and the things that you value and want to aspire to. A romantic relationship can often be the deciding factor as to where you will live or what you choose to do with your time. A work relationship can be the deciding factor to going into a particular career.

In short, whenever things change, or we get excited about something, or we become obsessed with some aspect, most of the time, you can point to a person or people helping influence that decision. When people ask me why I became a software tester, I could point to lots of different aspects (personality, work ethic, interests, etc.) but the truth is, I went into software testing because software testers befriended me when I was young. If I had been brought into a software development group, and I’d had a similar relationship with the coders, or perhaps the rework team, or heck, the accounting department, it’s possible some key person there may have influenced me to go do something else with my life. My friend Gordon was the key to getting me to join the revolution that was Snowboarding in the early 1990s. A friend from school and his passion excited me enough to want to become a musician. My best friend growing up did many things that caused the two of us to have a little game of “one up” with each other over the years. I joke that this relationship often caused us to take on all sorts of things and endeavors in our youth that neither of us would have done had we not known each other. My experiences with repertory theater, soccer, baseball, skiing and even doing a stint as a model in my teens ties directly to him.

So what’s my point with this? It’s people that make or break the big things. Many of my best interactions over the years in a variety of endeavors were what they were because of a close connection with a person. Many of the fall-outs I have had have not so much been due a disintegrating relationship, but often because of the removal of that person from the picture. I can point to a number of times when the highs were due to a particular person(s) presence and interaction, and when the downward slide was precipitated because of a particular person(s) no longer being there. We like to believe the work is what engages us, and for many, it might be, but never dismiss the people from the equation, especially the value of ‘That One Person” at that given point in time. Without them, your (and my) life might be very different today.