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Wasn’t Me

24 May

We’ll make millions of decisions as we go through our lives, and will succeed at many things. We are intelligent and capable, and generally if we want to do something, we can make it happen. But life is full of complications, unforeseen developments and lots of drama and intrigue we may not see at the beginning. When problems arise and things go south, if we’re involved but intent on looking good, we may say, “It wasn’t me.” Despite our involvement, we may deny having anything to do with what’s happened, and try to walk away unscathed. It nobody looks too closely, we might get away with that, but truth is powerful, and in time it’s likely we’ll be found out. Denying what’s real is just a smokescreen that only delays the inevitable reveal. Unless we stay on the move and constantly change our situation, which is very hard to accomplish, eventually our dishonesty will be exposed. Nobody is perfect and we’re all going to falter at some point. It’s one thing to make a big mistake, and quite another to make it and then lie about it. Others will forgive errors in judgement even if it impacts them personally, but it’s harder to forgive lies used to cover up the mistake after it’s happened. When things go wrong and everything blows up, if we’re involved, we can step forward and honestly accept our part in the issue. We can then do whatever is needed to correct the situation and regain our footing. Every success is there for us, and there isn’t a problem or detour that can keep us from achieving it. By being truthful and open, we can step forward with clarity and confidence, sure we will reach every destination.

We all want to look as good as possible. We want to impress those we admire, make changes that improve our lives, and do things that will move us forward. We are capable of making excellent plans and reaching the goals we most desire. But life is complex and we may be unaware of decisions and situations going on that may impact our progress. Crap happens and eventually it’s going to happen to us. People get in the way, problems arise, things break and endless details may go wrong. It doesn’t always mean we took a wrong turn, or reflect on our choices. If we get stuck or turned around, we have everything we need to regroup and start again.

Some people will do or say anything to look good. They may lie about their qualifications or credentials, or manipulate those around them so they can jump over them and move ahead. When things go wrong, they may blame others and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. It’s impossible to trust them and if we must interact with them, it may be very difficult. We are not responsible for anyone else’s choices but our own. We can choose wisely and stand strong, knowing success is just ahead and we will claim it.

Today if your plans have gone awry and others have been impacted, own your part in the situation and stand firm. You are intelligent and capable, and will find all the answers you need to move forward with clarity and confidence. Be wise and clear. The road ahead is still there for you and with determination and focus, every destination you desire is possible. You are strong and smart, and nothing can keep you from success. Move forward and every dream will be yours.

There is only one reason.

3 Apr

I have an acquaintance who knows all about business. She’s knows how to start one, how to market it, how to sell it, and how to be a success at it. She reads dozens of business magazines and books on success. She knows all the buzzwords, all the famous people, all the best jobs and all the names of the companies that are moving up and making names for themselves. She’s like a business guru. She books herself in small venues to give speeches about business – how to get started, what to do when problems come up, how to be successful, and she’s filled with advice for everyone. But she has never DONE anything in business herself. She talks all the time about the companies she’s going to start, and all the success she’s going to have, the millions of dollars she’s going to make, and how she’s going to change the business world. But she never does anything. All she does is read constantly about these things, talk continually about them, and try her hardest to convince everyone around her that she is a success.

When asked why she hasn’t yet done anything to get her business plans going, she has a lot of excuses – all of which sound pretty good. “The market isn’t right for this model at this time. I am working on getting the start up capital. I am looking for investors,” and my personal favorite, “I’m still fine tuning what I want to deliver.” Okay. Well all these excuses might sound good, but years have gone by, she has no money, she struggles every month to pay her rent, she’s always scrounging around for some place to give a speech about success, and she’s really talking the talk. But that’s all it is – talk. She never steps up and starts.

There are innumerable reasons not to do things. Innumerable! If you aren’t ready or don’t really want to do something, the reasons you can come up with never end. There is an old story of a man who asked his neighbor if he could borrow his axe. The neighbor said no. He didn’t seem to be using the axe so the man asked him why he couldn’t borrow it. The neighbor said, he was sorry but he was making soup. What does soup have to do with me borrowing your axe inquired the man. Well, said the neighbor, if I don’t want to lend you my axe one excuse is as good as another. And it is.

We have a lot of reasons why we aren’t doing something we’ve been thinking we want to do. We can have as many reasons not to do things as we like. We could just say our hair is growing today or we have a bone in our arm. Really, any excuse will do. But if we want to do something there really is only one reason to do it – because we want to. That’s all. It’s simple. We want to do it and so we do it. If we don’t want to do it, we can stall. We can wait as long as we like until we’re ready to face the truth. And the real truth generally is that we’re not doing it because we don’t want to do it enough to take the steps to start.

One reason. That’s all it takes to do anything we want. One reason. Because we want to. Nothing else really matters. Think about it. One reason. And then decide.

My boss the bully.

27 Mar

Some years ago I had a very stressful job.  It involved dealing with all kinds of unhappy people in situations where they were angry.  I am pretty good at diffusing conflict and I learned very quickly just to listen and let them blow off steam before I would talk and offer suggestions for resolution.  It was a good job in that the salary was high, the hours were good, and the benefit package was nice, but it was a very hard job and what made it worse was that my boss at the time was a bully.  And to add to it, (although this term has been completely over used and tossed around way too much in recent years) the woman was also a racist.  She hated white people.  She frankly stated it time and again.  At work!  I will not reveal what race she identified with because it’s not important.  What is important is that I am “white” or what she thinks of as white.  Actually I’m Italian, but that was white enough for her.

The first few months in my new position, my boss ridiculed me regularly, demeaned me in meetings, and criticized me openly in front of my co-workers.  Every time I turned around she made a snide remark about me, and did everything seemingly in her power to make me feel horrible.  There were days I cried in my car driving home thinking, “I can’t go back tomorrow.”  But I needed the job and there was no way I could quit.  I tried meeting with her alone but she would not show at our appointed time.  I asked again and again to see her, and she would not meet with me.  Her boss was also her best friend who hired her despite the fact that she did not meet the requirements for the job, so going to him seemed pointless.  And so I was stuck day after day basically in job hell.  After several months of this, I became physically sick and called my elderly dad and told him what was going on.  He was patient and told me what I already knew – I shouldn’t have to put up with this.  Then I called my attorney and asked him what my options were and he advised me with all kinds of legal suggestions that I figured would just make the situation worse.  And then I called my Bishop at church who advised me to pray about it, which I had been and continued to do.  But still there was no change.

After one particularly horrible day, I went home sick to my stomach, with a grinding headache, and decided I couldn’t take it any more.  I shouldn’t have to put up with this, I didn’t want to take legal action, and so I decided I was going to have to quit.  I didn’t know how I was going to manage but anything was better than what I was enduring.

I got home, cried a little, felt horrible a lot, took a long soak in the hottest water I could stand, and went to bed.  Resigned to my fate.  Defeated.  Done.

But something happened that night.  I tossed and turned in bed for hours and at about 2:00 in the morning I sat straight up and said out loud, “Oh no you don’t.  You are not taking my job from me.  This ends NOW.”  Somehow in a moment I had changed.  I was not going to be the victim anymore.  I was going to stand up and although I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I was going to confront her in the morning and put a stop to the abuse.  I took a deep breath, steeled my resolve and went to sleep.

The next morning I got up and got ready.  I was nervous and scared, tremulous, but determined.  No more letting her roll over me.  No more abuse.  When I got settled at work, I stood up, took a deep breath and marched into her office.  I shut her door, and told her I needed to talk to her.  She looked up at me like she wanted to put a knife in my heart.  I took another deep breath and said:

“I will no longer tolerate your abusive behavior.  It will stop today.  If it does not stop today, I will either file a civil lawsuit of discrimination, an EEO complaint, or a grievance.  Or I might file all three.  But your degrading comments about me and to me, your constant criticism, and your remarks about my race end now.  This is over.  Are we clear?”

She was stunned!  She looked like she had been hit in the face with a brick (I know I exaggerate but you need to know the full effect of my words.)  She cleared her throat and said she would have to report my comments to her boss, and I said, “That will be fine.  Are we done here?”  She nodded, and I turned and left her office.

When I got back to my desk I nearly fell into my chair I was shaking so hard.  I felt I had faced down the demon, and it had been both a terrifying, and immensely gratifying experience.  It took a while for my breathing to calm and for me to be able to feel normal again, but I was very, very proud of myself of facing the issue and doing what had to be done.

After the moment I left her office, everything changed instantaneously.  I never heard another single negative thing from my boss.  Nothing.  She was cordial and polite every time we interacted, she was respectful in meetings, and when we passed in the halls she always said hello.  I couldn’t believe the difference or how quickly it happened.  Later she moved on to another job, as did I.  We’re both still with the same company, and when we see each other she is always quick to say hello and ask how I’m doing.  A complete and total reversal from where we had been.

Is there a bully in your life?  Someone who is making you miserable?  Someone who is doing things that hurt you maliciously?  You don’t have to take that.  You can stand up to it.  They say that many people who bully others do so because they have a low self image and lack courage.  That seems to have been the case in my situation.  I am not an extremely brave person.  I struggle with fear – have my entire life.  It took everything I had to stand up to the bully in my life, but I did it, and everything changed.  If I can do it, you can do it too.  Stand up.  You are worth the very best there is out there.  You can defend yourself and you can prevail.