“Make sure everybody in your boat is rowing and not drilling holes when you’re not looking,” Dr. Steve Maraboli.
I have found myself in an interesting place several times in the last few years. I have been judged by individuals who do not know me personally, people who I either have never met before or those who I have never had an opportunity to talk to. The judgments themselves do not bother me, I have no desire to befriend those who cast their judgement without taking the time to get to know me. What bothers me is that these individuals feel comfortable engaging in judgmental conversations about me in front of my friends. Recently, a team member was speaking negatively of me to other members of my team; however raves about how much they love me in my presence.
Normally I do well in using the bricks that others have cast at me to build my empire. I pride myself on my tribe, my tribe is ride or die, or so I thought. I also pride myself in building a team whom I can trust. It is frustrating that I am finding leaks in my boat.
Often, I am more guarded than Fort Knox. It is life’s easiest mechanism for defense, yet it can influence building relationships with new people. My life experience has instilled in me a desire to be in control of what happens next, an ability to prevent myself from experiencing the pain that I experienced in my past. My emotional walls come from a legitimate place. They are triggered by anxiety when I am faced with similar experiences in life, and they can make life exhausting. There are days that I shut down, and other days when I shut the world out. My wall building is an imperfection that makes me who I am. And on rare occasions, I meet people who can break through the walls, these are special human beings.
I have recognized that when my walls go up, I am reacting as the person I was a long time ago. There are some experiences that the walls are unable to protect because each experience changed who I had become and who I am becoming as a person. Somehow, I have mentally adapted to what I am experiencing to take the edge off my feelings. It’s all a process…
As a coach, I tend to use mechanisms that I have learned on my educational journey. The mechanisms that I truly believe in:
- Check Your Tribe: I love Dr. Maraboli’s analogy of the boat. Our lives are like a boat on the open sea. We can go anywhere. If we do not acknowledge those on our boat who are there for the ride and those who are drilling holes, then we remain tethered in the same place and in some cases, we begin drowning. I want people in my boat that cannot wait to get to the destination, and who will row as long as it takes to get there with me.
- Give Yourself Permission: Give yourself permission to experience both success and failure. If you are anything like me, you have this idea in your head on where you are supposed to be. Sometimes the bar may be too high, and some days you feel like you are falling short. Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself permission to fail. Let yourself fall short. When you are finished falling, reset the bar. Set a new attainable goal, or break your goals down into chunks. Detours are acceptable, you will get there at the right time!
- Live Your Values: Decide what is most important to you, and let it guide you. When we focus on aligning ourselves with our values, we make critical decisions that navigate us to our destination, our purpose. By living our values, we are better able to avoid those moments when our walls want to go up. Our values help up to discern experiences that might trigger our emotions.
- Do Not Take Anything Personally: We are not responsible for the thoughts, feelings, judgments, and actions of others. I try to remember that, “Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” When we ponder too long on the opinions of others, it can lead to low self-esteem as well as a loss of confidence in our abilities. It is important that we show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and release our attachments to the results.
- Establish & Keep Tight Boundaries: Our boundaries define who we are as individuals, who we are, and who we are not. The boundaries we set limit the people and the energy that we allow near us. They are our safety zones. It is when we establish strong boundaries that we attract people in our lives that share similar boundaries. These are the people who help to hold us accountable, this is how tribes are formed.
It is important to remember to say no when you mean no. Be open to having a conversation when you feel that your boundaries should be reinforced. Saying no gives us an opportunity and meaning to those things that we say yes to. Saying no allows us to maintain our course so that we have the energy to create what we truly desire for ourselves.
I am always practicing these habits. I am constantly fighting against my walls. I keep rowing because I know that my purpose is ahead of me. I keep rowing because I am making a difference not only in my own life, but in the lives of others. I keep rowing because my haters want to see me fail, you know that one’s drilling holes and waiting for the show. I remind myself, our critics are often armed with bow and arrows. They pull you back but somehow they forget that they are launching you forward. I dust it off and I move forward.
What I have learned through the ups, downs, and severed ties of friendship is to not live in the gossip, judgement, and chaos that others create around us. The best way to help others survive in this crazy world we live in, is to not become a part of the gossip, judgement, and chaos. Don’t breathe into it, don’t give it life. Words and actions whether aimed to hurt or in jest can inflict pain. You may never know the impact that your words might have on an individual, you do not know their experiences, you do not know their history. Don’t be the negative impact on another human beings future.
Treat others as you expect yourself to be treated, and be the best version of yourselves. I have learned to surround myself with those who will stand up for me in both my presence as well as my absence, those who pull a chair to the table in order to make my voice heard, and those who have earned the privilege to be a part of my story.