At the risk of my Senior Marketing Manager giving me heck for too long of a word count in this blog post, I want you to know that I’m combining five People of Influence into one.
When you read the post, you’ll understand why. It’s not that I haven’t got things to write – I just want to restrict myself! You are welcome Paul.
His name is Mr. Adversity.
I know for a fact that everyone who reads my “Person” of Influence blogpost this time has met him before too. Regretfully, he is alive and well with no fixed address.
I say “him” but sometimes he shows up in a dress and is a “her”.
Although I don’t camp with the feminists and am not a woman’s rights bra-burning type of gal, I’m going to have to stick with calling him a man in this blog. That’s because it seems to be the gender he has shown up in when I recall the four serious times I hung out with him.
I mean seriously hung out with him, like in longer term business-type relationships lasting a minimum of three years.
If it annoys you that I am protecting the guilty by not stating their real names, then think again.
One, it would be cruel to publicize them. Two, I don’t want to air forgiven laundry even if some haven’t repented. And three, I may have forgiven them, but I don’t need to feed their narcissistic selves with credit for being an influence on me or risk giving them permission to justify their actions.
When I originally created my list of 25 People of Influence, my first instinct was to think of people who positively influenced me – like the five previous posts. It was hard to come up with 25 names of positiveness. But at the same time it occurred to me that I have endured some pretty negative influencers in my life and they should really make the cut too.
Because really, they have shaped my thinking and actions hugely too, in fact maybe even more in some cases, and led me down life-giving journeys of learning in each encounter.
And that my friends, leads me to my Greatest Lessons learned from Mr. Adversity.
Greatest Lessons I learned from him…
Read plural form – Lessons.
The first and hardest lesson learned was to forgive someone when you’d rather scratch their eyes out.
I’m not gonna lie – in each of Mr. Adversity’s arrival in my life the time together started out wonderfully, fun, engaging, bursting with fresh ideas that abundantly flowed in hopes of a brighter future.
Then slowly, oh so slowly, right under my oblivious nose, the relationship unveiled the ugly truth – that my trust of them was being used to self-serve their needs and wants – as they slithered around me like a snake in the grass. And not a cute Gardener Snake either. Think snake like the-snake-in-the-Garden-of-Eden snake tempting Eve to bite the apple.
Besides recognizing I own my own part in having allowed things to go unchecked, the richest lesson I learned was I was only hurting myself when I withheld forgiveness from Mr. Adversity.
I don’t mean to get preachy here, but for me, if I didn’t live with a faith in Someone Bigger Than Me, I really couldn’t have forgiven him each time. Being reminded over and over that God loves them as much as He loves me gave me the ability to see Mr. Adversity’s heart separate from his actions.
It’s no different than us parent’s love for our kids – no matter how badly our kids could hurt us or screw up, we would never take their school picture off the wall in the family room. Never. Ever.
The second lesson learned was to think bigger, wider, deeper and in a contrary manner.
Not that all of Mr. Adversity’s ideas brought forward were right for me or the business, but it helped me get out of a “groupthink” mentality.
It forced me to walk a day in his dress shoes. I’m not talking being able to empathize with him, I am referring to considering business strategy or contextual interpretations from a non-natural position for me.
I am loathed to use examples as it would give away identities but here’s a generic version.
Let’s say I want to drive to Lethbridge, Alberta. I’ve done it often and I have my usual route mapped out in my head – head east on the Trans-Canada Highway all the way to Calgary and then head south on Highway 2 and twelve hours later I will arrive, Lord willing, in Lethbridge.
Twenty minutes into my road trip I pick up a hitch-hiker whose raggedy cardboard sign has Lethbridge scrawled on it. He gets in and won’t stop talking about a different way to drive to Lethbridge, explaining why they are all better than my usual route.
I am tempted and intrigued by the excitement of a new road with steeper hills and curvier curves so I risk it and turn off the #1 in Hope to take Highway 3 East via the Crow’s Nest Pass genuinely enjoying the new sights and sounds until…..
I’m stopping the analogy now.
It’s getting too long and is ripe for interjecting more lessons like running out of gas, crashing, getting knifed by the hitchhiker and I am trying to stick to the point of the lesson that is: there are more ways to achieve a goal then the ones I alone know of.
And for those of you who I lost at the point of picking up a hitch-hiker, don’t worry, as much as I always want to, I never have and I probably never will.
The third of my Top Three lessons I learned really bites my apple.
I believe that everyone is born with the ability to trust and be trusted and that is how I treat people.
It’s the Golden rule played out: “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Our business alliance partner JeldWen even has that written as their company Mission Statement. Well, it used to … before they went public. Interesting.
What I have learned though is that I need to be much more discerning of giving out blanket trust.
Actually more discerning as to my expectation in return.
Just because I trusted them, doesn’t mean they have the capability to trust me back. I have learned the hard way – I cannot MAKE anyone trust me no matter how trustworthy I actually am or try to be.
At the end of the relationship, when I dissect the demise of it as I can do so well, for so long, until I am sick of myself thinking about it, I realize that, for whatever reason, Mr. Adversity never had the capacity to trust in the first place.
Nine out of ten times if Mr. Adversity laid down on a shrink’s couch we would will likely discover the root of their trust issues link all the way back to their own trust bank being emptied out, usually during their formative years when they were still an innocent wide-eyed child.
It is sad really.
Before, when I wrote: “at the end of the relationship”, I meant that. There always is a final end to the relationship in my experience with Mr. Adversity.
It’s the entire premise of Phantom Screens’ first corporate value “To Speak the Truth”. Kind of like the restaurant sign on the door: ‘No Truth, No Trust, No Relationship’.
The only exception for me to this rule could be when marriage vows are involved but let’s leave that topic to the side for now, shall we?
If I could talk to him this very second, I would say…
“Dear Mr. Adversity, here’s what my brain wants to say to you… ^+%*()*&^%^#$)!!!!”
But I will intentionally choose to follow my Mom’s advice and “try and be the bigger of the two” despite my human weakness to want to be spiteful.
So, let me try this again.
“Dear Mr. Adversity. I wouldn’t have chosen to have you in my life nor am I going to thank you.
However, since we mortals do our best learning in the valleys of life, as opposed to the peaks, let it be known I am thankful to God for having guided me through the rough spots and for giving me a capacity to learn, develop and grow from it.
You know, that whole Phoenix thing, a sun out of the ashes.
And although the chances of you reading my blog are slim, I will say this much to you.
I hope for your sake that one day, you too will find the real joy in life from learning to trust others and serve something bigger than yourself. You have so many incredible gifts to use for good on this earth if given with no strings attached.
It is my prayer for you.”