What don’t you know? Throughout history science has pointed to absolute truths that were later proven false. The world is flat; no the world is round. There are no germs; yes there are germs. We are the only planet that could sustain life; no there are millions—even billions—of planets that could support life. And we can be certain that this trend of mystery will continue. Science is now poking holes in pretty solid ideas like space and time. If even science, with all of its peer-reviewed testing, is still regularly proven wrong here and there, what makes us think what we believe is so right and certain?
In virtually every divorce I’ve encountered in my life and work, the person that got dumped was completely surprised. And I mean completely. The did not see it coming at all. Imagine that. They had failed to notice that their most intimate relationship was disintegrating right under their very feet. Maybe it’s time for a closer look at yours. If you were to take the temperature of each interaction, what percentage would be warm and inviting, versus cold and dismissive?
I’ve worked a lot in management and as a management trainer and it’s the same there. Most bosses imagine their career as a graph that steadily rises. Prominent universities have done studies on how managers will tell themselves narratives about how they must have gotten their jobs because they’re so good that they’ll start to think they can figure everything out on their own. They’ll start to think any disagreement is automatically wrong because it conflicts with their brilliance. And yet I’ve seen many of those managers taken down by the very staffs they disrespected.
Especially new managers will often forget that responsibility can flow the opposite direction. One business owner was met at his office door by an intervention strategist and told that his entire 70 person staff had called a meeting to inform him that his abusive behaviour either had to change immediately, or everyone would immediately quit and he would be sued by the group. Another manager was taken down by a group of brave employees going over his head to the boss’s boss. Only five went, but the other 45 backed up the stories the five told and the manager was fired.
I’ve seen parents who abused their kids in various ways. Financially, physically, emotionally. But kids grow up and change. And as they grow, they acquire new strengths. And before the surly parent even knows it, the child has left the adult’s life never to return. Sometimes the police are even called. This happens most with the strictest parents. As the Persians say, the harder you squeeze the watermelon seed, the farther it flies away from you. We cannot force others to live inside our reality.
How you think the world is, is not how it actually is. That’s how it is for only you. But you have the power to inflict your world-view on others, so you had better take into account the temperature of those dealings. Because if they are cold far more than they are warm, then whether you are a spouse, a boss, a parent, or even a government, you very well may be in for a very rude, abrupt and extremely painful awakening.
Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya had their government’s fall for precisely the same reason that husbands leave wives, that children leave parents, and that top employees leave or have their bosses fired for. Humans are humans first and foremost. You can call them Libyan or you can call them wife or you can call them child or you can call them employee, but they remain human regardless.
If you’re removing the meaning from life in whatever way, understand that no human can survive in a situation where they are starved more than they are fed. And as they get hungrier and hungrier for reasonable treatment, they will first become depressed, but they will eventually become angry. And that anger will eventually spill over into action.
The question is, am I writing about you? And if I am, what is it that’s about to happen? Because I guarantee that today, tomorrow, and for every day thereafter, many people will get dumped. Many people will get fired. And many children will exit their parent’s lives forever. And almost no one will have seen it coming.
Take a fresh look at old things. Pay less attention to the details in your day, and pay more attention to the temperature of it. Because each thing you do is like a brick you lay in your life. The question is, are you building footpaths toward you, or are you building walls that will separate you? Because the bricks can do both. The difference will be what you choose. But it’s only an actual choice if you make it consciously.
I wish you every good fortune.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.