Socrates is reputed to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I believe we live into the stories we tell ourselves. As we begin this new year, I encourage us all to pay attention to our stories: the stories people tell us and the stories we’re telling ourselves.
I’ve included a short story about my dad’s advice early in my professional life that I hope you will find helpful for 2020.
It’s one of the stories I tell myself and when I remember to ask myself Dr. Phil’s question, “How’s that working for you?” invariably my answer has been, “Well, thank you.”
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
I adored my dad. As did most of the men who worked for him. There was something about my dad that made people want to please him. And equally, not to displease him.
In the early ’60s I started working with him. In the early years this was basically babysitting, but as time passed, I learned a lot about construction.
When I turned 16, and got my driver’s license, he made me a foreman. In the beginning the extent of my responsibilities was obtaining permits and getting men and materials to the job-sites. But as time wore on, I was left in charge on job-sites when my dad would have to leave.
I remember one particular day, daddy had left me in charge and shortly after he had left a situation arose that I didn’t know how to handle. The options the men suggested seemed inappropriate and so my decision was to just await Daddy’s return.
Awhile later, he rolled up in his pickup truck. He parked and jauntily jumped out. It was clear from his body language he’d been productive while he’d been gone. Then his demeanor changed. It was clear there’d been little progress in his absence.
I explained the situation and he immediately set everyone back to work.
He then told me, “When I leave you in charge, it’s because I trust you. If there’s a decision to me made in my absence; make a decision. Do something. I can fix wrong. I can’t fix nothing. And besides most of the time whatever you decide will be good enough.”
There’s a biblical parable about a master getting angry because a slave buried his talent versus developing it. I completely understand. I was afraid of making a mistake that would displease my dad.
It’s been over 50 years since that day. And I’ve made a lot of wrong decisions during that period. But he was right, most of them were either correctable or satisfactory.
I’ve taken a couple of lessons from that event and my subsequent decisions, right and wrong.
1. Trust yourself. Do your best. Few of our decisions are life and death and even the ones that are demand action. So, when faced with the majority of situations, trust yourself and do something. Even if it’s wrong, the odds are we can live with your decision.
2. If you trust someone enough to leave them in charge in your absence, back them up. Because, remember, you left them in charge. You bear an equal share of the responsibility for their behavior. And the odds are we can live with whatever they do anyway.
So, to quote my Daddy, as you go into 2020, “Do something.”
This might not be a bad last minute gift. Hint Hint
I Want to Hear from You
Have you a story you’d like to share?
Have you a story you’d like to hear?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Til next time,