Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simplify, Select, and Persuade

Been a "nice guy" most of my life. It's how I was raised. Primarily by my mother and my older sister; weekends with dad. I learned early how to appease, and not rock the boat. How to seek approval with women in my life. Took me years to figure out; hell - decades. But when it comes to us "nice guys", there are 3 universal truths: A) We're "nice", because we've set expectations to be treated nicely in return; and to achieve something on account of it. But… B) Being "nice" never got us anywhere, nor accomplished anything. Therefore… C) We're gonna blow our freakin' lid one day, on account of bottling up all that frustration which comes with a lifetime of having your expectations dashed. So I've slowly been learning to simplify. To stop seeking approval. To sometimes just say "no"; and other times don't say anything at all. It's not easy at first; but I'll tell you what, all you need is the tailspin of a life-altering situation to help you see the light. I'm here to tell you that you don't need to wait for that; just open your eyes, and see the truth. All you "nice" guys, you "third wheels", you "shiftless dreamers". You appeasers.
First off, stop caring what other people think of you. This isn't the same as being an asshole to others; this simply means allowing others to feel the way they feel about you for their OWN reasons. You can't control what others think and say; so why should you worry about it? Now, don't go off being an asshole to people, and then say "I don't care". You should always care about how you treat people; but your first concern should always involve how you treat yourself. This is not the same as being selfish; it's about being strong. About building a solid foundation for yourself. You can't be strong for others, if you're not strong for yourself first. Just like they teach you when you board a plane; attend to your own oxygen mask first, before helping somebody with theirs. One of the secrets to fortifying your foundations is selectivity. Don't surround yourself with scores of people. The more people you surround yourself with, the bigger the target on your back; and the greater the opportunity for someone to step forward and stick the proverbial knife into it. Simplify. Identify those select few in whom you trust; those select few who truly have your best interests at heart. That's your foundation right there; not all those dozens of fairweather "friends" who yuck it up in social settings. You're only as strong as the people you choose to surround yourself with; and the more people that surround you, the weaker the foundation becomes. I look at people in 3 simple categories; or "levels". Think of it like a pyramid. The top tier is the smallest, but the most important. Your strength is found in this tier; and should include only those who have your best interests in mind. The 2nd tier opens up wider, and generally includes people in whom you are very cordial and friendly with; but these people are kept at an arms distance. Not so that they'd know it - but that you'd know it. Some people may work their way up to the 1st tier; but you'll realize that most of those in the 2nd tier belong there for a reason. The 3rd tier is simple; ALL OTHERS. Don't give em' the time of day; unless they somehow earn their way into the 2nd tier.
But on the far side of that, sometimes it becomes downright necessary for a man to draw a personal line in the sand; bordering even on intimidation. It can be a very useful psychological tool; but just like anything else, one needs to learn how to manage doling it out effectively. Intimidation doesn't mean going around verbally and emotionally abusing people; it's a very fine line. First off, learn to keep those in whom you deal with on edge; on their heels. Remain rational; and convey that you are to be taken seriously, without being a hard-ass. Those who scoff, or don't take you seriously, put them squarely behind you for good; 3rd tier baby. You'll begin to respect yourself more on account of it; and you'll find that others begin to respect you more as well. With your kids, quit trying to be their friends. This is a big mistake I made years ago; being my son's "buddy". He's worse off today on account of it; we both are. Quit telling your kids to try their best, and instead PUSH them to DO their best. Needless to say, sometimes my son doesn't like me as much anymore; but eventually I realize he LOVES and RESPECTS me even more than ever.

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