“No. No, no, no you go to hell!”
This meeting wasn’t going well. I was sitting across the table from some business associates, and not ones that I liked. To be fair, they didn’t like me either. So, it was just one big table of hatred and putridity. Not exactly conducive to a profitable business deal.
We’d been at this for about a decade, and I mean that literally. I’d been working with these people, on and off, fairly regularly during that time. Actually, far more than they knew. I was often the one behind the brilliant ideas put forth by others that I wished a) to take the credit, and b) to act as the filter through which my associates viewed the ideas. (Ever have someone reject your input just because it came out of your stupid mouth?)
What do you do when you just want to tell everyone in the room to jump off the nearest cliff high enough to result in serious bodily harm?
People – most of them actually – can be very closely associated with, if not found to be the thought leaders of the moron movement. And the selfish movement. And the insecure, belligerent, uncompromising, unreasonable collection of individuals we know as: humanity.
I know I’ve been very willing myself to point the finger of blame across the boardroom table at who I saw as my opponents and declare with vim and vigor that they were, without doubt, the most ridiculous individuals I’d ever encountered. (This is almost never well-received.) What we don’t think about is what it means to have their finger pointed straight back at us.
Are you purrrfect?
Are you perfect? No. Probably not. Are you an absolute legend who does even 90% of the things in your life right? Again, probably not – especially when we include the deep, dark thoughts you have every waking moment. No, instead, all we see are the people who oppose our getting what we want in life. We blame them, because it’s obviously their fault. Whose else could it possibly be? We insist that we’re sick of everyone’s shit, and instead of doing what we ought to do, which is lean into the situation, we lean away and eventually take another course, completely avoiding the teaching moment.
I have an unusually sharp personality. I say and do things, especially in person when I know I’m not on the record, that will often leave people in tears. I’m not trying to hurt them. I’m actually trying to help them. If you’re the type of person that would be in tears, you’ll probably start to hate me right now, because you know other people like me that have made you cry, and you’ll group me with them. You’ll decide that this Danny Zoucha person is someone you don’t want to deal with, and you’re probably right about that. Fair call, I say.
I used to think that the aforementioned business colleagues of mine were every horrible description in the dictionary, and awful excuses for business leaders. But, what were their thoughts on the other side of the table? What was it like in their heads?
I know I’m hard, sharp, edgy, and I have a lot of momentum. Kind of like a baseball bat, wrapped in barbed wire, being swung around by Mike Trout.
What’s it like to be hit by me?
The fact is, as abrasive as I find my colleagues, they probably find me equally, or more so. Being a self-improvement guy actually doesn’t help, either. Matter of fact, the development of one’s self and perfecting of one’s impurities can often leave one more confronting than less.
So, what’s it like for the people across the table?
What’s it like for the person next to me in bed?
What’s it like for the child looking up at me?
What’s it like for the friend sharing a coffee with me?
I can go on, as I’m sure you can, justifying your behavior as some kind of pious, and completely reasonable approach to life and the people in it. “I’m just more holy than they are! That’s it! I don’t need to change! They need to grow and toughen up.”
How’s that working for you?
When you want to give anyone the finger, imagine a little red flag waving next to your fingernail. Up it goes, and watch it flap in the breeze. This is a moment where you ought to be learning something.
It will make you more successful if you can figure it out, and what’s more: it will go away.
If you don’t figure it out and instead lean away, instead of leaning into the situation, it will come around again and the monster will be bigger, and have a different looking head. It won’t all be the same, but it will feel very similar to that which you experience over and over.
So… let’s pull that ‘go to hell’ back in. Let’s not say it out loud. Let’s just recognize that we said it in our heads. Let’s consider it a little red flag, and figure out the lesson.
Because wishing someone eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell actually doesn’t feel very good.