This year has been filled with pain, loss, and hurt in many ways. However strong the vicissitudes played out, change does not come without these attributes that contribute to growth. Although there have been some joyful and even blissful moments shared with loved ones, life did not fail to come with many challenges! I was challenged in my faith, my ability, my relationships, and my whole outlook in life as a whole. In honor of turning 32 this year, I thought that I would share with you 32 hard truths that I have learned this past year. Keep in mind that these truths are from my personal experience, and when shared, you may be able to relate or give it a pass. But I do believe that it would provide the kind of perspective that will encourage you to think deeper.
1. A Good Attitude is Not Enough
Just as you know that a good intention will never replace an action; apathy should not be confused with empathy; competency is more important than having a good attitude. I remember working a job this year that I did not like. I was not that versed in my role, so I did what I knew best until I got the hang of the proper procedures. After a while, I still did not comprehend some of the processes and used a good attitude to cover up what I did not know. Eventually, it came down to me being the nice guy who was an idiot! It’s one thing to experience excellent customer service, but it quite another when you can’t get anything done.
As embarrassed as I was, I began to work overtime and off of the clock to get down the process. But deep down inside, I knew that I did not want to be there, nor did I see a future in that industry. I was eventually let go, and it was such a terrible day for me that I went out and bought a pork chop and a Mai Tai at a steak house as a celebratory meal! I was celebrating the fact that I was released from a job that was holding me back from what I was made to do. Then I had my time back to work on what truly mattered to me! Now I can add a good attitude to what I am competent in, and that combination is more than enough!
2. Check Your Assumptions
Have you ever got into a conversation with someone, and you thought that the subject matter was below them? Until they had a rebuttal, they looked to have a dull view due to their appearance? Then they begin to present a strong argument and bring along facts and examples that seemed to come out of nowhere? I used to say that it was never safe to assume. However, my dad challenged that saying one day and said that the only thing that we should assume is that people are smarter than you may perceive.
Don’t underestimate how smart people are! We are surrounded by intelligence, brilliance, and some genius at times. Universities don’t define them, street smarts don’t define them, age, color, nor gender defines them. People are just smart! I dare say that when we underestimate other people’s level of comprehension, we do the same about our own. Therefore, it would behoove you to check your assumptions.
One day I at a gas station to grab some stacks, and I saw this couple holding hands as they walked passed the station. The two young ladies behind me began to shout out, “Okaaay… We get it! We all know that you guys are in a relationship!!” I thought to myself, “Salty much?” I mean it was not like the couple was grabbing butt and trying to have a baby in the parking lot, they were just holding hands! The girls behind me just lashed out because of her previous pain. I thought that was a bit extreme given the case.
In my line of work, I meet people in relationships all the time. Although I seek companionship myself, I will admit that I’ve seen couples that I have envied because of how good they looked on the outside. I would see a young lady that I would perceive to be “my type” until she’d open her mouth. I would ask some couples how long they have been together (Because who doesn’t enjoy a good love story?) and they will mention that they have been together for 6 to 10 years. I would then ask how long they have been married, and then they would say that they were not ready for such a thing, but they have a kid, a dog, and a house together.
Confused, I would think to myself that I would not want to go that long with someone and not want to take it to the next level. Now I genuinely believe that if you are in a boyfriend/ girlfriend situation, the door is open, but if you are in a husband/ wife situation, the door is closed. I realized that I would never want to be in a baby daddy situation a long time ago. I also would not want to be the one pulling a woman along for a ride if I’m not fully committed to in the long run. Time is too precious, and people are too valuable just to be toyed with unless you are not mature enough for a real relationship. I have realized that if a couple does not share your values, then they are NOT relationship goals.
This will allow you to wish those people well and not to consider them #GOALS!
4. Perform For The Haters
It is not easy to perform a job and not be appreciated for what you contribute to the role. Growing up, going the extra mile was a given. One of my early jobs, I was instructed to display “Lagniappe.” This means to provide extra care from what you have promised to deliver. Customer service that goes beyond expectations when you want to leave a lasting impression matters to a forward-thinking person. However, in your quest for significance, not everybody will appreciate what you do.
The thought that you put into a project; the strategy for growth that you brought to the table; the ideas that you had stored for the right moment, all just so that they can be treated
like a fart in the wind. People spend a lifetime trying to please others, just for them to come up short in other’s eyes.
The appreciation level has dwindled, the workload has doubled, and the acknowledgment has vaporized. We live in a world where we seek approval from people who are not qualified to give it but must perform for the sake of advancement. Although we should not seek “yes-men,” but take on the challenge that we will not please everyone. Therefore, we must keep moving in spite of those who disapprove. Your significance should be found in your purpose and in the one who created you. This way, you can work from significance, not for significance. Therefore, it would become easier to perform for your haters.
5. Shiny Coats Are Great Until They Fade
As a life coach, people from all walks come into my life, wanting to figure themselves out from an outside perspective. Although I have charged for services, I have occasionally taken on personal requested sessions. As I do like to help people, a lot of individuals forget that I am a person as well. I have had a few people hunt me down this year to receive my advice. They fought to get onto my calendar and then had a compelling story that made it hard to say no to. We would meet up, go over goals, and plan to execute them. When we would meet up, I would have a plan ready, plus room to have a real conversation. Coaching sessions are the most natural part of the process because it is the time to deliver the call, and it gives a chance for the recipient to respond to it.
However, the pride and joy of it all are within the follow-up and accountability in between sessions. These moments make the sessions worth time and effort. Not to mention the hours of research, planning, and customization before each session (the hardest part & most time spent). I have realized that once the person develops the confidence to make it on their own, their participation dwindles. What used to be them scratching for your time, now has you fighting for a follow-up.
Now because of all the time I have put into this person, I am left empty and somewhat betrayed because I have accepted to provide a high level of service for free. Some people are only genuine until they get what they need from you. While going through a crisis, help looks like a juicy burger when you’re on a diet. Help looks like the gym after the doctor gave you bad news. However, when you think that you are in good shape, you drop your membership and order you two burgers.
Your old habits re-establish, and the cycle begins again until you break it. Information is free, but accountability is an investment. I am a person; what I do is my shiny coat. Once people get a glimpse of what I have, they want to shine as well. But if people get used to the coat, or God forbid I take it off, the greatness of my gift begins to fade.
Stay tuned for the continuation of 32 hard lessons. If these lessons that I have learned helped you in any way, which one stuck out the most thus far?
For more content, be sure to get my latest groundbreaking book: TRANSITIONS: Balanced on Shaky Ground. A story that will help you in hard times!