Honestly, the hardest part of success is figuring out who is holding you back. The answer is ALWAYS you. YOU are the one who decides who you are allowing to speak into you. The closer I get to reaching my goals, the more obvious this is becoming.
“Oh, I thought you must have died or something!!!” came this booming voice over my shoulder as I was standing in line waiting to pay for my gas. I knew this voice all too well. I also knew the comment signaled that the conversation I had been putting off, was going to happen; whether I was ready to have it or not.
To calm myself, I took a sip of the chocolate hazelnut coffee I had just picked up. I was on my way to work a 12 hour shift that I was already late for.
My first thought was to use work as an excuse to avoid the real issue. I could have probably gotten away with an “Oh, I’ve just been really busy..,” followed by a quick point to the name tag I was wearing, and an “exit stage left” while he was paying, but that seemed like the chicken-hearted approach.
So, I took a deep breath through my nose, and then slowly turned around and said “Hey, Dave…” but, before I could finish my sentence, he blurted out with a disgusted tone in his voice: “Geez, you went away for a seminar 3 months ago, and you never came back! What kind of a friend is that?”
“I’ll tell you what Dave, if you’ve got a couple minutes, why don’t I go grab us a table (pointing to the coffee bar by the window) while you pay?” I said as I felt my knees shaking quite a bit.
He growled and nodded his head in the direction of the bar stools. I could tell he was really looking to chew me out. This was good because his attitude woke my inner Chicago upbringing. In other words, I am not interested in being chewed out by anyone I’m not married to! Although, he did have a legitimate beef. I had intentionally separated myself from him. And, I hadn’t given him a heads up or a reason why.
He quickly paid and marched over to the window where I was now sitting on a stool trying to find an intelligent way to “begin”. The best I could come up with was to just begin.
“Dave” I began, ”At the seminar you mentioned, we worked through some exercises designed to show us where we are losing momentum. One of the exercises specifically discussed the people we surround ourselves with and….”
“What? I’m not good enough for you?” he exploded before I could finish my thought. He went into some justification rants about how he has all these degrees, owns his own business, is big into the church, and is well respected by the community, etc.
He began to sound like the teacher from the Charlie Brown movies, so I chose to go for the same pattern interrupt strategy that I sometimes have to use when one of my pharmacy customers becomes overheated.
“DAVE, IT’S YOUR LANGUAGE!!! IT’S THE WORDS YOU USE, AND THE FREQUENCY WITH WHICH YOU USE THEM, THAT BOTHER ME!!”
“ARE YOU INSANE!?!” He shouted back in amazement. ”I NEVER CUSS! EVER!”
Knowing I had his attention, and needing to control the conversation, I brought my tone down to just above a whisper and said with a soft smile “Oh, cussing I can handle. I grew up in Chicago. But do me a favor and ask yourself how many times a day you use words like horrible, awful, disgusting, and betrayal. Somebody is always cheating you, disappointing you, or letting you down. For you the glass is not only half empty, you truly believe somebody stole your water and replaced it with vinegar.”
He starred right through me. It was VERY uncomfortable. ”You’re crazy!!” he finally let out, and then stormed out of the gas station.
I don’t know if I will ever see him again, but I do know this: Yesterday, I had an appointment with a lady who drove two hours to meet me. She wanted to tell me in person that her 13 year old daughter reads my daily Facebook posts and appreciates my upbeat attitude. This lady thanked me because at 13 her daughter “is struggling to find her place in the world” and needs “a positive role model” like me.
The rest of the evening I was captivated by the thought that we don’t get to decide who will pick us for a role model. But, we do get to decide what kind of role model we will be. Do we use words like “horrible, betrayal, awful, and disgusting”? Or, do we use words like “WONDERFUL, BRILLIANT, INCREDIBLE, or AMAZING”?
I believe who we choose to surround ourselves with will largely determine that!
What do you think?