When I was in the 1oth grade, someone very close to me said something that has stayed with me every since. I was a teenager, know it all (yes, even back then), and even though I wasn’t a bad kid, I was still…you know, a teenager. My parents and I didn’t seem to speak the same language, and whenever I had a choice to make, I always seemed to make the wrong one. So one day, this person that was close to me, who was no doubt exhausted with my adolescent angst and attitude said, “You seem to be having issues with a lot of different people. Have you ever considered that the common denominator in all of that conflict is you?” At the time, this person wasn’t trying to teach me a lesson. She was frustrated and didn’t really know how to deal with me, and perhaps was even trying to hurt me. Nevertheless, I’ve taken those words with me into my adulthood, and reflect on them often.
Years later, in my mid-twenties, I read “Choosing Truth” by Harriette Cole. In the book, Ms. Cole wrote about how we can’t make other folks change. When we have conflict or have a dispute, we need to look for our role in the situation and handle that. Let the other person worry about getting themselves together. That message, coupled with the statement that was made to me as a teenager, really helped to shape the woman that I am now. By no means am I perfect, but I would like to give myself credit for being authentic and honest about who I am and what I do.
If something isn’t going your way, maybe it’s you.
Which brings me to this: If something isn’t going your way, if you aren’t getting the opportunities that you want, people aren’t doing what you want them to do, or saying what you want them to say…maybe, just maybe, it’s you. Look y’all, I’m not trying to be all judgmental up in here. Every single day I have to check in with myself and reflect on what I’m succeeding at and what I need to work on. Every. Single. Day. And some days, it’s really hard. Take for instance last week. I had a tough time at work. I was having major communication challenges with one of my colleagues. It was clear to me all week why he was wrong, but it wasn’t until he called me and voiced his concerns about my communication style that I realized the part that I was playing in our conflict. Then I took a quiz on leadership style in Inc. magazine, and although the test concluded that my style is that of a Visionary (they likened me to Barack Obama and Richard Branson, hello!), it also encouraged me to think twice before I showed the smart people that I work with how smart I am. Basically, stop being a know it all the daggone time! Our conversation and that quiz really turned the lights on for me. The challenging relationship between my coworker and me wasn’t all on him. I was the other player in the scenario, and I was just as much at fault as I wanted him to be.
Are there any areas in your life that aren’t quite connecting and you aren’t sure why? Have you checked yourself? Because of the work I do, and the company I keep, I hear a lot of folks complaining all of the time. I’m sure people don’t mean any harm, but for me, the person who has to field the complaints, it can get overwhelming. Our society has evolved and become a place where everything feels like it should be accessible to everybody. Gone are the experts and the outliers. EVERYONE can be a success. You want to be a writer? Go to blogger.com and start a blog. Boom! You’re a writer. Want to be a model? Take some photos and post them Instagram. Boom! You’re a model. But…not really. It just feels like everyone can do everything now, but ain’t nothing changed…they can’t.
We live in a world where folks are encouraged to be themselves, and are told that they can have and do whatever they set their minds to. Well, I certainly believe in being genuine, and I know that if you work hard you can achieve great things. I also recognize that my great thing may not necessarily fit in line with someone else’s great thing. Like with blogging. I think I’m a good writer, but I’m not as good a photographer. Well, in the blogging world pictures matter now even more than before. I was planning to get a DSLR and learn how to take better photos, then I decided not to. I’d rather spend my money on something else. I own the fact that my pictures are not awesome, and I’m making the conscious choice to not do anything (really) about it, and…get this…it’s okay if I miss out on opportunities because someone is looking for a blogger that posts great pictures. It’s not bad that they have standards, and it’s okay that I don’t meet them. It’s not them not picking me because they’re stinky boo boo heads (yeah. that’s the best I got!), it’s me. I’m deciding not to give them what they are looking for. Do I hate them for it? No. Because it’s me! It’s my “fault”. I’m the person to blame!
So, what if it is you?
Take a minute y’all, seriously, just one minute, to reflect on your situation. Are there opportunities that you are going after and you keep getting passed over? Are you having a problem with someone, personal or professional, that can’t seem to be resolved? Do you always seem to be whining or complaining about something or another? If so, the problem could be you. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because at least now you can find a solution. First, you need to own it. Then you need to decide if you’re willing to change. Finally, you can move forward, feeling lighter and more optimistic, because you are in control of the outcome now. YOU are in charge of YOU.
And if none of this applies to you, fantastic! That means you’re perfect and I suck. I can accept that. After all, knowing that I suck is half the battle, right?