In recent years, with the benefit of age and life experience, I’ve come up with a strategy that has greatly increased the positive energy in my world. It will sound counterintuitive, but when I have a goal that I’m trying to reach, no matter how small it may seem, and even when I already know how I plan to reach it, I will ask for someone’s advice.
Have you ever seen the look on someone’s face when you tell them you’d like their opinion? Pure delight. You just gave them the highest compliment on earth. You value their insight. You respect them. You want to hear what they have to say.
Be sure to be genuine with your request. Even if your game plan is in place, by employing this strategy, you may be rewarded with some fabulous ideas that you hadn’t considered. It never hurts to get someone to look at your project from a different point of view.
And remember, you don’t necessarily have to take their advice. Either way, you’ve just made a huge deposit in someone else’s emotional bank account. They’ll remember that.
This approach will also keep you humble. It will remind you that you aren’t the only person with solutions in this world. Going it alone isn’t always the best way to get ahead.
I have never gotten anything but positive results from this tactic. Try it. Pick one person during the course of your day and say to them, “I’d love your advice.” Extra points for asking someone who rarely gets to give advice, like a young person or an elderly person.
See what happens. I think you’ll like it. I guarantee that the other person will.
Well, it seems I’ve ruffled more than a few feathers of late. Most of those feathers seem to be firmly attached to Trump supporters, and that’s perfectly okay with me. I can’t imagine that we’ll ever see eye to eye.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a journalist. I’ve never claimed to be one. I’ve never wanted to be one. If you’re looking for facts, you’ll want to look elsewhere. What I write are for the most part opinion pieces.
My whole life I’ve been told that I have strong opinions. For decades I took that as a character flaw of some sort. I tried really hard not to have opinions, but it just wasn’t in me. Those failed attempts caused a great deal of self-loathing and wasted time.
Then, with maturity, I realized that everyone has opinions. I just tend to express them more than the average person. So why not turn that into an asset by way of writing a blog? Well, that isn’t going to make everyone happy. So be it.
I think the confusion occurs when people assume that I insist that everyone should agree with my opinions. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. After all, who the hell am I to dictate what anyone else thinks? I don’t consider myself an influencer.
I speak for me, not for anyone else. My opinions are mine. This blog is mine. It’s therapeutic for me. If this were the 19th century, I’d probably be writing a diary. It’s wonderful to have a broader forum. But rest assured that your participation is voluntary.
I’m writing it for me, and if my readers enjoy it, I view that as a delightful side benefit. Many times you give me broader insight, or inspire other posts, or get me interested in topics that I would never have thought to pursue. I’m grateful for that.
But if in the process of writing this blog I step on a few toes, I’m guessing those toes will take themselves elsewhere eventually. I hate to say this, but I really couldn’t care less either way. That’s one of the few facts I’ll lay claim to.
Recently I overheard someone proudly say, “My grandma was known for making the best apple cobbler in the county.”
That got me thinking. Is everybody known for something? I believe they are, at least to the people who love them most. I’ve heard people described as the type that would give you the shirt off his back, or the strongest person I’ve ever met, or, on the opposite extreme, a massive jerk.
Do we know how people truly think of us, or how we are described by others? Well, I certainly don’t. So I decided to ask. I reached out to about two dozen friends and loved ones, and posed this question:
If everyone is known for something, what do you think I’m known for?
I decided to keep it that simple, and only elaborate if someone asked for clarification.
Most didn’t bother to respond. That disappointed me greatly, but that’s typical with any type of survey, formal or informal. Even that taught me a little bit about who will actually step up for me, or at the very least, who lacks concentration and/or is epically busy.
Of those that did respond, many came back with the easy, surface stuff. I’m known for being a bridgetender and a writer. Those who aren’t in touch with me as often mentioned that I’m known for being a fractal artist, even though I haven’t made a fractal in years.
Those were legitimate responses, and nothing to be ashamed of. But it made me realize how important it is to properly frame your question. What I was hoping for, really, was not what I’m known for by people in general, but how would you describe me to others? What has been your personal experience with me? What makes me unique in your eyes?
But there were those who delved deeper. One smart aleck said, “Epic farts.” But even he got more serious and went into more detail after a little bit of prompting. Here were some of the responses I received:
Supporting someone in need.
Makes me laugh.
You’re unique. A fair amount of women I just can’t “talk” to.
You mean what you say. You tell it like it is.
An advocate for those you feel have no voice.
Brave, independent woman who takes no nonsense from nobody and loves her husband and dogs and job.
You care about right and wrong so much that your blood boils when you see what you believe is unjust.
Delivering your opinion in a most enlightening way.
You are adventuristic. A ‘seize the moment’ sort of person.
You appreciate the now.
Heart to heart sharings of intimate fears.
Your ineffable sexiness (this one made me blink, and blush.)
Compassion for animals.
Patience and persistence in pursuit of making a good life for yourself.
Reverence for the use of language to convey your insights.
Wow. Just… wow. These were wonderful observations. They certainly made me proud. They humbled me. Some of them were extremely unexpected. But I’ll take it.
This experiment also taught me a lot about how different my inner self is from my outer self. The two ways I’d describe myself were not mentioned by anyone. I would think that I’d be known for my intelligence and the fact that I have no filter whatsoever. But maybe I see myself that way because I use the intelligence as a suit of armor to hide behind, and I spend a great deal of time doing damage control for my lack of filter.
The bottom line is that I’m really glad I asked this question. I would recommend that everyone try this with their loved ones. The education you get from it, in ways both predictable and unexpected, is priceless.
Recently, someone I know spent a great deal of time trying to talk a friend out of getting a divorce. She was convinced that this divorce would be the worst possible thing her friend could do. She applied a lot of pressure and created a ton of doubt. The jury is still out as to whether she changed her friend’s mind.
But the whole time this was going on, I was thinking, “How dare you?”
First of all, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in any relationship. And it’s not for you to decide how someone else is to live life. Even if what that person is doing seems like a monumental mistake, it could be the catalyst that brings on greater things for him or her in the future. At the very least, the experience may be an important life lesson. The choices one makes are what shape that individual. You don’t have the right to determine someone else’s shape.
In my opinion, the only time you should try to intervene in another person’s decision-making process is when that person is contemplating suicide. Because that’s the one choice in life from which one cannot turn back. Give your opinion about other things if asked, yes. But don’t get all definitive unless someone is about to step off a cliff.
I came by this belief the hard way. Once, I was in a relationship that was making my life so miserable that I decided it was time to move on. I had all my stuff packed. I had decided what to say. I was ready.
And then I made the mistake of telling my oldest sister. And she screamed at me. Because she liked the guy.
At the time, my self esteem was so low that that was all the discouragement I needed. Maybe she was right. Maybe this was a huge mistake. I mean, he was a nice guy. A great guy. Was it his fault that he left me feeling unfulfilled and alone? Was it his fault that I felt as though we had no common goals, that we were working toward nothing, and that our future would forever be exactly the same as our dreary present? Was it his fault that I felt more like his mother than his partner? It’s not like he beat me or cheated on me. What were the odds that I’d wind up with anyone better?
And so, with tears in my eyes, I unpacked. And he never knew. And we stayed together for another 12 long, miserable, unsatisfying years. What a waste. What an unbelievable waste. For both of us, because he certainly deserved more, too. It’s one of my biggest regrets.
Discouragement is an interesting word, when you think about it. It basically means that you are taking away someone’s courage. No one has a right to do that. Ever.
Come on, admit it. You like reading stuff that agrees with your already established mindset every bit as much as I do. It’s such a relief to surround yourself with a stereophonic chorus that’s chanting “You’re absolutely right!”
So imagine my sheer joy, my unparalleled delight, in finding two articles in a row that say what I’ve been longing to hear for my entire life. I want to stay in this emotional paradise forever. I don’t want to read another thing. You can’t make me.
More and more studies are showing that how you answer that question will accurately determine whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. If you accept that as a given, then we are in a very scary point in history, because I can’t imagine anyone or anything that would make any of us change your mind about how we answer that question.
If you think the world is not a safe place, well, then, it wouldn’t be very safe for you to change your mind, now, would it? On the other hand, if you think it is a safe place, then you are more flexible about new concepts, new knowledge, new ways of seeing the world and the way we choose to live in it, and I can’t imagine anything making you give that up, either.
Think about this from a political standpoint. If the world isn’t safe, then immigrants can’t be trusted and should be walled off. Vaccinations can’t be trusted. We should stick with age-old traditions. Gender roles should remain rigid. We should all have guns. These are all political issues that stem from our worldviews.
And once you’ve read that, hop on over to take this intriguing test. It consists of 27 questions that have nothing to do with politics, but your answers will quite accurately predict your politics regardless. It’s pretty much based on the same theory, only it determines one’s level of disgust. And that’s a little scary, don’t you think? (The results said that my brain is 74 percent Democrat. That’s because the only thing that disgusts me to any degree at present is the current administration. I’m surprised that I didn’t show up as 110 percent Democrat. Still…)
So, if the way we all see the safety of the world isn’t likely to change, and if it’s true that that pretty much spells out our political party, then that means we can count on being polarized from here on out. Because we’re already polarized. That means that this divisiveness and gridlock will be nearly impossible to get past. In essence, nothing of note will ever get done.
That makes me tired. And it makes me sad. But I’m really glad to be in the group that sees the world as a basically safe place. It must be terrifying to think otherwise.
When you work for a government agency, all your office correspondence is accessible to the public. In my case, such scrutiny is highly unlikely, because my job is generally uneventful, and doesn’t inspire those types of inquiries. Thank goodness. Because I don’t really like drama.
So, I definitely could have lived without the excitement when one of my coworkers decided to send me an e-mail entitled “professionalism”, with a copy to two of my supervisors, saying that I was unprofessional and lazy. This really stunned me, because I take bridgetending very seriously. I am proud of the job I do.
Without going into detail, it boiled down to a difference of opinion regarding a gray area in our procedure. He suggested I should lie on the radio to my boaters to keep up appearances. I prefer to be honest, and my actions caused no inconvenience or complaint. And more importantly, no one’s life was put at risk.
But he would not let it go. He went on and on, saying he’d never heard anything so unprofessional in his 19 years as a bridgetender. That kind of made me scoff, because I’ve worked with him for 17 of those 19 years, and oh, I could tell you stories about some of the outrageous things we’ve heard from coworkers. Bridgetenders are a very unique breed.
But he didn’t stop there. After I came back from my days off, there was another e-mail from him, to me and my supervisors, calling me a liar. This was patently absurd, and I could easily prove it. He was really beginning to sound like he had lost every single marble he had ever had.
I basically said that I wasn’t going to have this discussion with him on this public forum, and that if he had a problem he should take it up with our supervisor, and that he needed to stop harassing me.
The weird part about it is that it’s much ado about nothing, and his outburst and name calling made it very clear that he was the one being unprofessional. The irony is that he retires in about a week. I guess he has decided to burn all his figurative bridges behind him. Let’s hope, in his heightened state of agitation, he doesn’t go all literal on us.
I used to respect this man. Now I’m not going to miss him at all. And that makes me really sad.
So here’s to professionalism. Here’s to being kind to one another and treating fellow human beings with respect and courtesy. Here’s to keeping it classy. And here’s to not pulling a b**** move on your way out the door.