This is my interview on “Point of View” with Dr. Nick Pitts and Kerby Anderson.
Have you ever thought about how much you are part of the fabric of life? The fact is, you are part of a fabric that is larger than yourself. Here are five quick thoughts as it relates to you being fabric:
1. You weren’t made to do life by yourself. You need others weaved around you.
2. You are stronger the more you weave others into the fabric of your life. Don’t isolate yourself. An old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, run alone. If you want to go far, take people with you.”
3. Variety in the colors of those who surround you are what makes your life more beautiful. If all the people in your life look like you, you may want to broaden the “palate” of your fabric.
4. If you have stains, marks, and blemishes in your life, it doesn’t mean you are no longer a good person or have lost your usefulness. The fact is, your greatest hurts can become your greatest service to help others woven around you.
5. There may be certain textures that “rub you the wrong way” but it may be those difficult people that make you better. Don’t begrudge those folks. They may make you better in ways that comfort could never bring.
So in summary, there is much good to be found in the fabric of our lives.
One of the funniest Jerry Seinfeld jokes I ever heard him tell (as if he and I hung out together) was actually about Al-Qaeda. Seinfeld said that this terrorist organization must think the strategy to defeat the West would come down to an epic battle on the monkey bars. Every Al-Qaeda video seems to show them training in the desert on the monkey bars.
The monkey bars were not my favorite piece of playground equipment (that is reserved for the rusty merry-go-round), but they do hold a great life lesson for us. I realized this by reading something said by CS Lewis. Lewis said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go to move forward.”
I deal with people all the time that are hurting in life and often because they won’t let go of the past. One of the sessions I deal with when I speak in corporations is the issue of forgiveness. If an employee won’t unpack the baggage of the past, not only will they be limited in their ability to move forward in life, but they will make everyone they are around miserable.
These comments are in no way intended to belittle the depth of the hurt a person may have experienced. However, unless a person seeks to heal and move forward, they will continue to be victimized by the hurt in their past. Whether it’s abuse, a divorce, an unjust firing, or a crime, life is filled with hurts that can cause us to falter and fail.
Though very difficult, sometimes we have to simply acknowledge the hurt, and to quote a somewhat famous Disney movie, let it go. Until we let some things in the past go, we will never move forward. The task of letting go is never easy, but health and healing don’t come without effort. What greater effort should be put forth in a person’s life than to be healthy so they might be helpful to others.
Have you been hurt in life? The grass is flat in front of you. Don’t let yesterday destroy today and ruin all your tomorrows.
Do you need to let go of that monkey bar?
Isn’t it hard when a person gets the credit for your good ideas or someone passes off a joke you have just told as their own?
I heard a funny story about a frog that wanted to go south with the birds for the winter. It was too far to hop and he couldn’t fly, so he thought about it and came up with a solution. He got a couple of his bird friends to hold each end of a stick in their beaks and then the little frog clamped down on the center of the stick with his mouth. The birds took off and the frog was hanging from the stick they were carrying in their beaks.
They flew over a couple of farmers who observed the scene. One farmer said to the other, “What a brilliant idea! Whoever came up with that idea is a genius. I bet those birds came up with that great plan!”
When the frog heard that, he just couldn’t contain himself, so he yelled, “It was meeeeeeeeeee” as he fell to the ground.
The moral of the story:
If someone else gets the credit for your good idea, just keep your mouth closed!
No one likes credit stealers, but we have to keep our egos in check and make sure we are focused on bigger ideas. It’s easy to get distracted as to who gets the credit and miss the goals that are trying to be accomplished. That is the world petty people deal in on a daily basis. Great leaders keep their eyes on the bigger vision, not the petty details. Great people are more concerned about accomplishing the task rather than taking all the credit.
It can be very frustrating when someone takes credit for your ideas. When that happens, remember the words of Ronald Reagan who said, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
He was always mad at me. I never knew why, but this one guy was always on my case. It didn’t matter if I did right or wrong, he always thought I did wrong…and let me know it. If he could find a hurtful comment, he would say it. If he could threaten me, he would do it. If he could discourage me and bring me down, he did it. I did not like seeing this guy because I knew he was always going to be trouble. I just didn’t know why he was mad at me.
Have you ever had someone like that in your life? Maybe it’s a person at work or at school or worse, at home. They can make life miserable. If you have that kind of person in your life, I hope this post helps you a little.
I was talking to a friend about this man who was mad at me all the time and my friend said something that really stuck with me. “Brent,” he said, “ask the guy next time you are around him if someone has really hurt him in life.” At first, I thought this was one of those “see how I feel” moments. My friend corrected me and said, “I bet he has been hurt in life and is taking it out on you.” That was surprising to hear, but I thought I would give it a try.
The next time I saw the man, I asked him if he had ever been hurt by someone in life. Oh my! For the next 10 minutes, all I heard was how he had been mistreated and abused by the airline that used to employ him. He said they had taken advantage of him and he would never forgive them. He unleashed a barrage of hate toward that airline in my direction.
Ding! I found the answer. This man wasn’t really mad at me all the time. He was just viewing me as an airline CEO. He took out on me what he wanted the airline to know even though I am not a part of that airline (and rarely fly on it for that matter).
I learned a great lesson that day. The fact is hurt people hurt people. Often they are spreading their hurt to people around them who have nothing to do with the problem. Their hurt is, in their minds, to be shared with others, even if others aren’t interested in it.
We can’t always fix the problems of people who hate on us, but we can do something. While it is true hurt people hurt people, it is also true healed people heal people. The good in your life can be shared just as easily as the negative and your story of healing might be a balm in someone else’s hurting soul.
If you are being attacked, try to discern the hurt in the person’s life. You may never find the answer, but I can guarantee you it’s there. And in the meantime, share a little healing with someone. Your healing may be what they need to overcome the hurt others are bringing in their life.
Hurt people hurt people, but you can choose to bring healing.
My son plays on a 4th grade football team that recently played in the championship game. It was a heartbreaking loss in the final, but capped off a tremendous season.
As I reflected on this past season, I began to think of the coaches. My son had three coaches this season that poured their lives into him, not only to make him a better football player, but more importantly, to make him a better young man. As I thought about their approach, four thoughts came to mind that are great principles for leadership even in a corporate setting.
1. Push people toward greatness.
The coaches were not content to let the kids stay at the same level of play all season. Each coach, in their own way, drove each one of the boys toward being better. Too many leaders let their employees stay at the same level for many years. Great leaders are always pushing and encouraging people to be more tomorrow than they are today. Don’t be afraid of pushing someone forward, and don’t be negligent in your responsibility as a leader.
2. Teach principles.
Our coaches always were teaching the fundamentals of football. It doesn’t matter if you are a 4th grader or in the NFL, if you don’t follow the basic principles, you will not win. The same is true in life. Great leaders encourage their followers to do the basics well. Games are not won because of last minute “Hail Mary” passes. Games are won by blocking and tackling in the trenches. The same is true in great organizations.
3. Love them.
Fourth graders are fun to be around and easy to coach. But they also need to know they are loved. They need to know they are valuable and have inherent worth whether they are stars on the gridiron or have just fumbled the ball and lost the game. People need to know you care about them and love them for who they are as humans. Great leaders know the secret: If someone thinks you genuinely care about them, they will go the extra mile to make you succeed.
4. Remember, it’s just 4th grade football.
We were all disappointed when we lost the championship. But we also had to remember that in the end, it’s just 4th grade football. There will be more games to play, and life is more than athletic events. Our coaches were disappointed, but they taught the boys a valuable lesson: there are more important things in life. Great leaders keep perspective and know that the world is not about to end. They keep encouraging because there are more games to be played in life. The business deal that doesn’t go through is not the end of the world. There will be a new opportunity tomorrow.
Many lessons have come through the game of football. I am pleased that three coaches are teaching my son lessons that will last him far beyond his football career. What life lessons have you learned from coaches or from sports?
When someone has hurt you, the natural response is to want to hurt them back. Our desires to get that person back often leads to tremendous stress, anxiety, and loss of sleep. Instead of resting comfortably, we toss and turn, have visions of hurting the other person, and, in general, seethe.
When I am tempted to do the same, I remember the benefit of forgetfulness. The more I can do to put my hurt behind me, the more effective I can be in life. I think that is one of the greatest benefits of forgiveness. I am no longer enslaved to my anger, but I am able to move forward. It isn’t easy to forgive and forget. Someone may have hurt you deeply. But forgiveness doesn’t let the crime go unnoticed nor does it deny the fact you have been hurt. What forgiveness does is release you from the bondage of that hurt. While it is not easy to forget, it may be exactly what you need to remember.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. “Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” came Barton’s reply, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.”
I hope you too can “distinctly remember forgetting.”
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to employees of the Dallas Zoo. What a great group of people. You could tell that they not only cared for the animals, but they also seemed to have fun together as an organization. We don’t typically think of the Zoo as being a stressful place. We take our families there to have fun. But for the workers who have to take care of the world’s largest, most fierce animals (I’m speaking of the human guests who invade the park!), and have to take care of the real animals, you can see how that job might be a little stressful. A lot of work goes in to making a great zoo, and most of us take it all for granted when we visit.
I tried to encourage the folks at the Dallas Zoo to relax, refocus, and restart as they handle stress in their personal lives and at work. That’s a great word for the rest of us wild creatures. Sometimes it’s a jungle out there, and we need to take the time to chill out.
So learn a lesson from the zoo. It’s good to stop being a roadrunner and take a few moments to bask in the sun with the sloths.
I had a great conversation with my father recently about how he hired and managed staff. It was not uncommon for him to have several hundred people under him in places he worked. My question to him was, “What did you look for when you hired people and what were the parameters in which you worked?”
His response was short…and really good.
“First, I would figure out, are you lazy? If you are lazy, you won’t make it on my team.
Second, are you for the leader? There are leaders who will be over you. Will you support them? If not, go work some place you can support the leadership.
After those that, then I’m going to let you have responsibility, empower you to do the work, and then let you go do the work without hovering over you, micromanaging you, or stopping you every time you want to push the envelope. I’m going to hold you accountable, but I’m not going to be in the middle of your business. You have a job to do, and I’m going to give you the freedom to do it. If you can’t cut it, it’s time to leave. If you can, you will be rewarded.”
Then he said:
“Those who could, did.
Those who couldn’t, left.”
Expectations and empowerment!