I know a young man who is tall, dark, and handsome. I know it sounds like a cliché and I can’t help it because this young man fits the bill. Not only that, he has the charisma and charm to match the handsome looks. I’ve seen him sweet-talk not only the young women around him but also those of my age group (really just a tad older!). He has a way of making you feel good just by saying hello.
I have also encountered his dark side. I’ve seen his stubborness. It shows up especially when advice offered is of no interest to him and a wall goes up, which blocks the speaker completely. I’ve seen him be rude and seen him ‘dis’ those he thinks, in that moment, are beneath him. I’ve often wondered if the charm is hiding a lack of self-confidence when I see his dark side. But hey, everyone has those moments, right?
This young man is a university graduate but like many recent grads he’s had a hard time finding a job. He doesn’t lack skills, none of them do. After all, they had to learn coping skills, write reports, manage relationships, be committed and consistent, and do all this within the time frame of the university. Many of them, like this young man, also had to work part-time while at school. Having graduated this young man set his sights on selling cars feeling that this would be a way to earn a high income, quickly.
I watched as his mother went from feeling that he’d set his sights too low, to coming to terms with the fact that he may actually be a good salesman. She had heard that he was the top salesperson in his part-time job, and knew he was a social butterfly with the ability to talk to just about anyone. And then he really surprised her with the research that went into learning about the company he wanted to work for and what was involved in selling cars. She was as thrilled as he was when he got the job!
Five weeks later he was fired. He was still on probation and he missed an important meeting. His mother told me he didn’t seem to be enjoying the job all that much – but no one ever wants the embarrassment of being fired. She also said that he talked about how the managers didn’t seem to want to help him succeed. Funny, I thought, she had said something similar with his other selling job, but in that case it was the other employees or the customers who were the problem.
This young man may be the case study but it gives us an opportunity to ruminate on our own lives for a moment. Are there times when you were sure it was the people around you who were the problem and not you? If this happens often, you might want to consider the fact it is you who is the common denominator in all those situations. Could it really be that there are so many dysfunctional people around you? I remember a comment made by a friend facilitating a work group. One person in the group was complaining about how bad bus drivers were, no matter what bus! My friend asked the question, “Do you think each of those drivers woke up in the morning contemplating how to make your day miserable?”
I believe everyone, including the complainer, is essentially good it’s just that we get caught up in ourselves, and in our own world, that we forget we are the only one who lives there. As such, there is no one else to change but the one who lives in your world, yet in doing so you will effect change in the relationships you have with those around you.
Five weeks on this young man has started a new job - this one in a call center. He’s still in training, already hating the job but in a jam as he has to pay rent, buy food, and pay for gas, or at least a bus pass until he has enough to get the car fixed and insured again. What his mother can’t seem to get across to him is that no matter where he is there will always be people around that don’t care about him. No matter, he has to show up.
What does it mean to ‘show up?’ Marianne Williamson suggests that, “it certainly doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect in every moment. It means moving softly through the situations in your life and witnessing how you show up, asking yourself if you were being the best you could be. Were you impeccable there or a bit lazy? Were you ethical or fudging there?” This is about building your character no matter where you are or what job you are doing. If you are able to bring your best to the worst job ever, can you imagine how you will soar in a position that you love? Just as you exercise your muscles at the gym, you need to build your character with every situation presented.
This young man needs to be present and ‘show up’ in this job he already hates. He’s not lacking skills, only the ability, maybe desire, to turn the light within and being open to changing those parts of his character that are less than great. In my opinion it could start with a little gratitude – he now has an income. I also believe that if he goes to work everyday with the feeling of ‘hating the job’ it’s going to ooze from him without him even realizing it. However, the people around him will feel it and can we guess how they will react to him? Your first two guesses don’t count!
Now, back to you. You maybe a bit older than this young man but you are no less vulnerable to showing up, being present, or building your character. How were you at 11 am this morning at work, or while cooking supper last night? Were you filled with angst and anger? Did you do it to the best of your ability, or were you just fudging? People around you may not say it but they feel it. Many years ago when my eldest son was about 8 years old he made the comment at a family gathering that Grannie made the best sandwiches. When asked why his response was, “because she made them with love.” It changed the way I cooked supper!
How you show up, no matter your age or station in life, counts. Are you being the best you can be?