There’s a guy that hovers by the entrance of my local bank.
He’s not a customer, but one of the account clerks who has worked in the bank ever since I set up an account there a few years ago. I pause to have a conversation with him each time I visit.
His response to my question of “How are things?” is always met with the same sigh of desperation, hopelessness and surrender.
Every so often he adds a twist, but it’s generally a concoction of answers based on a central theme which is;
“All the same, you know, I’m still alive and breathing I guess, but nothing has changed.”
This guy is not a geriatric or incapacitated in any way. He could not be older than thirty-five years old in my estimation.
It’s the passivity of his statement that gets to me. Resigned, impotent and surrendered.
This time, having heard the same answer for the past few years, I couldn’t resist the urge of finally responding;
“Surely you want more than just to be breathing?”
I only ask him this because over the years he has shared with me how deeply unhappy he is at work.
My daughters shot a look of embarrassment towards my direction. They knew what was coming since I can’t shut off the coach within me, as it’s not a clock in clock out at the factory situation. I have the desire to help people throughout my day. It doesn’t matter if they are the local bank clerk or some other person that happens to come across my path.
I’m curious about people, what makes them tick, what they desire, or what they would create if they had the opportunity to.
Anyone who so much as whispers a ‘hello’ will be swept into a conversation with a depth they probably would not be prepared for. If my local postman is delivering the post and comes across my presence, he will ponder his life purpose by the time he delivers his first round of mail in my neighbourhood, I can’t resist it.
It means I end up involved in long-winded conversations in random situations, and people are always desperate to talk, but even more desperate to be listened to. For someone to ask them the million dollar question.
“How are you today?”
But going back to the bank clerk, he added a dose of extra swagger towards his response that day;
“Perhaps I will win the lottery, who knows,” he said looking up as if waiting for the bank vaults to open and the money to pour through the ceiling.
“Have you bought a ticket?” I asked.
“Not yet” He answered.
I rest my case.
Imagine working at the bank with thousands of pounds passing your fingers, and not one of the crisp £50 notes happens to be yours, especially when you believe money will be the change you need to get started?
His sense of hopelessness frustrated me, although within this I know I have to be compassionate towards him. I know how hard it is to change any aspect of your life. You might visualise it as a fantasy, but to take the steps to go from where you are to where you want to be, now that’s another matter altogether.
As they say, rather the devil you know.
Notice the word ‘angel’ isn’t used, but ‘devil,’ so rather tolerate the trash in your life, than venture towards pastures new.
Unfortunately, we then tend to wait until an emergency arises, a redundancy, or a life crisis occurs. At this point, a person has no choice other than to dump ‘the devil they know’ and venture off fast. In these moments the response is out of urgency. Locked in a situation that has no escape other than to grow, expand and change direction.
So what are you passively tolerating?
Is it a job, a relationship, a financial situation, or something else?
How much is this holding you back?
The reason why I specifically mentioned this bank clerk is that there are other pleasant clerks at the till, but no one stands out as he does. He is charming, gracious, interactive, efficient and serves me as if I was Victoria Beckham each time I enter the establishment. And my account balance bears no resemblance to hers.
Imagine if he were to raise his game, apply for a promotion, take on some extra courses, even create a business on the side in the evenings at weekends or even (god forbid) enter the realm of Entrepreneurship. He would knock us all for six.
The potential he has is oozing out of him, but without the desire, the big why, the intention or vision to execute, this potential dies a slow painful death.
It is even more painful for me to watch as an outsider.
And yet most of us have been in ‘toleration mode’ at one time or another. I know I have.
When the pain of change is a far better outcome than the pain of tolerating what you have, this is when change organically happens. The universe then moves everything to get you on your way.
Just like the bank clerk, it’s much easier to hope and pray that things will change somehow, but nothing will shift without tremendous effort and hardship. It doesn’t come easy, and not everyone is willing to go through the painstaking journey. There is also fear around who you might become, will you lose your friends, will life be so different that you won’t be able to cope?
Lightbulb moments are powerful motivators for change, and these allow us to stare possibility in the face.
To tolerate what you’re unhappy with day after day uses up a tremendous amount of energy, which could be better used creating more of the life that you desire, however insignificantly you start.
An evening course, an online programme, putting yourself in for a promotion, taking your side hustle to the next level and investing more time in it. Whatever it is, and however small you start, it is still moving away from toleration into creation mode.
Or rather, from passive to active.
This isn’t about coming out of a situation as one jumps out of an aeroplane without a parachute, but slowly easing out of a situation that no longer serves you. Taking back your power, instead of standing around like a passive observer. Instead, becoming a more powerful leader focused on creating a more exciting future than what is currently in store.
If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.
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