A dozen years ago a former boss of mine confessed to trying to motivate me by saying no to my requests or by challenging me in other ways.
“You hate being told no. I know whenever I say it you go for looking for another way so I figured I might as well try take advantage of that.”
I smiled and told him his training was coming along and said to stay out of my way.
“Tread carefully, this is not a level playing field.”
Time has obscured some of those memories so I can’t tell if I responded or just walked away.
But I can tell you the best way to motivate me to do the opposite of what you want is to tell me what to do.
Ask my family and good friends and they’ll share a story or two. I say this not to prove how tough or stubborn I am but as the preface for something else.
The boy who shares my initials and I are in the middle of a particularly ugly conversation.
It is the sort of unpleasant moment that parents and teens sometimes go through as they both adjust to the shifting positions that come with time.
I don’t tell him he is among the half dozen or so people in the world who are capable of pressing my buttons or that I am aware he is trying to do so.
It is a fiction I am able to maintain because the conversation is on a telephone and he can’t see the cans and telephone book I have just torn apart.
My voice is somewhere between a hiss and a whisper.
“You are about to find out what happens when I book a flight back to LA on short notice. It won’t be long enough for me to calm down, if anything I will be beyond angry.
So you are going to listen to your father or discover I am not kidding when I say I will tear down buildings and walk through fire to take care of you. Be smart and do the right thing.”
Later on we’ll talk about the importance of listening and of being heard.
The conversation will go many places and we’ll talk about what it means to be a good friend and what we can demand from our friends.
For the first time in a long time he’ll ask me to tell him about my good friend who died.
I tell him it is too bad he never got to meet David and that he would have liked him.
Musical Interlude & Lesson Learned
- Hurt– Johnny Cash Cover
- Starman– David Bowie
- One Step Beyond– Madness
- Born To Run– Bruce Springsteen
- The Breaking Of The Fellowship– Lord Of The Rings
- Ramble On– Led Zeppelin
I told the boy whose voice grows ever deeper there were several things I learned from my experience with David.
The first was to ask questions and to listen.
If someone says they are seriously ill I’ll I try to make sure to find out what is going on so that I can support them.
The second was to remember people are entitled to share or not share information based upon their comfort level.
Third, tell the people that are important to you what they mean to you.
I figure if he can internalize and do those things it will serve him well and help make him into the kind of friend people want.
That is not to say he isn’t now, it is really not a comment about who he is at all, just a general comment.
The wind has been blowing extra hard for a while now so I figure my kite ought to be flying pretty high.
Hasn’t happened just yet, might be because of the kite eating tree and the arrows that pierced the damn thing.
But if I am good at anything it is moving forwards in spite of the wind and ignoring the naysayers.
There are always going to be people who are happy to speak about you and or say what they think you should do.le
Let them live their lives and we’ll live ours.
Surprises are are around every corner and some of them are pretty good.