Which End Of The Mindset Seesaw Are You?
I’d like to share a story about a young boy who I knew in junior high school over 20 years ago, Richie P. We were in the same English class and he was assigned to sit next to me. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was trouble. He had long hair and wore torn jeans (80s style) and in my short life I had never met somebody like him. He just looked like a boy that I should stay away from because he was probably mean and not well behaved. In short, I was intimidated by him.
I only spoke to him if I had to and I avoided eye contact as much as possible. One day, after we completed our writing assignment, Richie reached over and picked up my paper and announced that he would hand in mine as well. I was so flustered because in that one moment of kindness my carefully crafted story of Richie was falling apart. I went from being afraid of him to being his biggest fan. In fact we talked so much that our teacher had to separate us.
After that one semester, our paths diverged and I did not see Richie again until high school. I could tell that his life had not gone well. He was probably dealing with difficulties at home, which is generally the case when kids take a left turn. And that led him to associate with a certain group of people and this once sweet, kind kid was now considered a trouble maker. I sometimes wonder if his life would have turned out differently if he would have had someone who believed in him and encouraged him.
You see, no matter how insignificant we may think we are; our interactions have a tremendous and powerful influence over others. I bet Richie had no idea that his one small act of kindness made such a huge difference for me.
However, my story does not end here. Imagine for a moment, if one interaction, or a series of events, or even a situation that lasts a few years is so impactful, what do you think would be the power of something that is with you every single day of your life – your interaction with yourself? I’m talking about the constant mind chatter that you say to yourself. Especially when you are disappointed, anxious, or stressed.
No matter how self-possessed we are, each and every one of us has a ready list of things we say to ourselves when we attempt to accomplish our big goals. As a coach, I often hear some version of I’m not experienced enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough and so on. We are so used to this mind chatter that we often don’t realize that it colors every aspect of our lives: the magnitude of what we think we are capable of achieving, what we believe we deserve, and how much we are willing to allow into our lives.
The interesting thing is that as we work to clear the litany of yeah-buts that crop up, we feel empowered and inspired to act upon the circumstances and situations that present themselves. All of a sudden, we notice connections that lead us down a promising path or resources that support us, and life flows more joyfully.
In closing, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes by author and mountaineer William Hutchinson Murray “…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”