Betrayal

When does the truth expire? Maybe your friend said they’d make you Assistant Manager when they got made Manager. Maybe your parents promised to let you participate in something and then prevented you from attending. Maybe someone said they love you and now they don’t. Why did these people lie to you?

933 Relax and Succeed - With gentleness overcome angerThe truth is they didn’t lie to you. They said whatever they honestly felt at the time but for this to make sense we must lose the false notion that people are their names. Names are labels. In the moment people are their behaviour. So people in a state of ego will easily assume that you are not your history but rather you are your most current behaviour. Friends are the people who see past that to who you generally are.

In the case of the friend at work, their professional identity is suddenly completely transformed and so then is their relationship to you. That’s also when they start to find out the responsibilities and limitations that go with their new job–and that might or might not include hiring you despite what they may have wanted to do or thought they wanted to do.

In the case with the parents I’ll use me as an example. My parents were strict but fair and their rules were reasonable. One night–thanks to a pretty girl–I was out past my curfew and my parents decided I couldn’t go to a drum clinic I had bought a ticket for and really wanted to attend because it was being taught by a musical hero of mine. No go.

933 Relax and Succeed - I never knew how strong I wasMy parents hadn’t lied to me when they made that promise. The difference was, when I asked them the question I was following all of the house rules like my siblings. Later I wasn’t. And so the other me who was theoretically home on time still did theoretically have the ticket. I just currently wasn’t that kid to my parents and I accepted that I deserved the adjustment in the definition of me.

In the case of a relationship the trick is that the changes often happen slowly. A couple marries because they have fun together and they say their vows sincerely. But after a few years of nightclubs she wants to have kids and be a stay at home Mom, which is great, but after a few years goes by you have a wife at home desperately missing the adult time that work provided and so she’s not looking or feeling very sexy or fun.

Meanwhile the husband is stretched financially and his schedule is crazy. He’s always frustrated or upset and he gets impatient and disconnected. Slowly she becomes bitter about the lack of help and attention and he becomes bitter about the lack of gratitude and affection and suddenly they look at each other and see a completely different person; someone they’re not in love with. No one means for that to happen but without vigilance it will. Our relationships with other beings should always be very conscious.

933 Relax and Succeed - Unless you're one ofBy being more receptive and less punitive we will encourage a more secure environment in which people can risk making their apology. And until we all get there as a culture,it’s a lot easier to survive a hit of betrayal when we learn that the vast majority of it is really just a misunderstanding created by the concept of time and the vagaries of a symbolic language.  There are genuinely deceptive people but you can feel sorry for them. It just keeps catching up in all sorts of weird ways. But most people are sincere when they make a commitment to you, so before you get upset it might be worthwhile to look at both what society and the relationship have been going through. It might just place events in a temporary context where they make more sense.

Betrayal can be dangerous because it can play on the mind for many years if permitted. Because these stories involve people close to us we run into a lot of links to them in our memory all that time. That just gets us to replay and replay the same angry narratives and all it does is eat us away. We are better to never develop the feeling, but to do that we must not blame another person when we feel that urge. Instead we must keep an open mind that everyone may be innocent to a degree.

We all need to carry less fear and anger and hurt and blame and we must seek out more excitement and joy and compassion and connection. Look at your life and see where you spend time invested in negative energy and instead of just replaying those old stories yet again, consider looking at what happened again from the other person’s perspective. You might just find that seeing things their way could be what gets you feeling better. Happy meditating.

peace s

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.

Other Perspectives #81

761 OP Relax and Succeed - There are two sidesThere’s two sides if there’s two people. There’s three sides if there’s three people. And four for four. etc. etc. No two perspectives are identical. You’ll even change your own perspective over time because we all unconsciously edit our memories based on our history, which is always changing. We each learn to see the world in different ways because we’re all focusing on different things and we’re all giving them different values. So is a concert good or bad? That question has little meaning because it can be someone’s favourite band, but if they broke up with their longtime partner just beforehand then the concert is reduced to a painful reminder of a lost love, whereas for another person this is the first show they could ever afford to go to and they don’t even care which band is playing they’re just so excited to even be able to afford to go. And those individual perspectives will cause them to see absolutely everything differently. They might even use the same words and sound like they mean the same thing, but words are extremely flexible ideas. Is “justice” punishment, revenge or rehabilitation? As always–everyone will have their own view. So when you hear someone tell you what happened, what they really and truly mean is that they are giving you their impression of–or perspective on–the parts of it they were able to even perceive. And while they may not be lying, the fact remains that their personal view has no way whatsoever of ever being able to represent a larger truth.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, mindfulness instructor, coach and communications facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Friends for Life

A good percentage of people have a fix-it parent; that person who perpetually offers advice that no one asked for. They’re generally people who try to create peace by trying to create predictability outside of themselves. They couch it all as advice, but really they’re the type of personality that is often more comfortable when its telling other people what to do. It’s all well-intentioned and in all likelihood a lot of it is useful and true. But all that advice doesn’t add up to what a friend can give you in no time.739 Relax and Succeed - friendship will not stand the strain

Deep friendship is a state of unconditional love. Unconditional love is love without conditions. Conditions are limits or rules or things we’ll tell ourselves a story about. And we’ll do that right up until we exact some kind of cold-shoulder revenge after which we’ll stop telling ourselves that story and we’ll start telling ourselves a more satisfying one. But those narratives, rules and limits are all creations of the mind. They are all thoughts you have about the other person and your situation but they are all based on your personal perspective and priorities.

Friends love us enough—they see enough good in us—that we are invincibly connected. They can make it through any external disruptions because they believe in the core of us. They know where our balance point is, even when we’re profoundly off balance. As soon as we stop moving violently they step in and hug us with words, silence, or arms and soon we are at peace and are gaining perspective. This is the great value of friendship: their peace of mind leads to enough space for us to go through an experience and come out the other side without feeling judged.

739 Relax and Succeed - Maybe the most helpful thingDo you see how love works? You don’t need to build bridges of love toward people. You need to take down your barriers of judgment. Right up until you get to the last one: the idea that you have to know the person. Friends are great examples of how powerful we are because they are the only people we listen to for listening’s sake. And if we’re real friends the only time we offer advice is when we’re specifically asked for it.

A lot of people say their spouse doesn’t listen to them. Well then you probably don’t listen to yours, but you do probably listen to your best friend. Start paying attention to where your brain is at with the friend. Because that open non-judgmental state of mind is what allows the love in you to shine through unimpeded. Practice knowing that feeling. Know it well and conjure it up in other areas of your life. Before you know it you’ll be facing lineups, flight delays and irritable people with grace and humour and everyone will be talking about what a great listener you are.

When we look at it closely our friends are our friends less for what they give us and more for what they accept from us. If two people can still see the best in each other during their darkest times then there is no real reason for that relationship to ever be undermined. Fairweather friends need you to behave in ways that they find acceptable. They’ll be great right up until you disagree with them. But a true friend loves and accepts you regardless of your views or behaviour. And that simple lack of judgment is at the heart of what makes any relationship great.

Call your best friend, thank them for doing what they do and then have yourself an awesome day.

peace. s

Other Perspectives #61

651 OP Relax and Succeed - Hurt me with the truth

We say we would prefer to always have the truth but we only say that during those times when we’re stressed by the act of not-knowing—when we’re stressed by our own wandering imaginations. In day-to-day experience we learn early-on in life that we’re likely to be punished for wrong answers. So people learn to give no answer, or intentionally ambiguous answers, or they state outright lies—yes, you included. You couldn’t find one person on this Earth who hasn’t done that. It’s human. Life is complicated. And people are fundamentally decent and we cannot always see their changing motives. So the real truth is, if someone has a choice of telling you the truth, but that means they have to watch you be hurt or angry because you’re hurt, then they’re not going to want to do that. Not when they could lie to you and have that pain deferred to a later date. None of these acts are horrible in that they are always motivated by an effort to get along. Yes, it’s true that these actions can inadvertently be cruel. Nevertheless, it’s still an inevitable part of life. People can make us all of the promises in the world but we won’t really know what anyone will do until we watch them live any particular moment. Because that is when we all decide how to live our lives, and in real-time people are far more likely to avoid your pain than incite it. If we accept this as fundamentally human it seems less like a failure and more like the poignant recognition of a basic human frailty. After all, we’re talking about the birthplace of many of music and literature’s greatest artworks. It’s important to forgive others because we’ll need that same forgiveness on occasion. So don’t try to live in a world made of ideas and don’t ask others to live there either. Live with human beings instead. It’s messier in many ways. But there’s still nothing better. 🙂

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Brian Williams Lies

Brian Williams, the highly respected national news anchor has been ridiculed for a lie he told regarding being in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire. Williams did lie—he was actually in a group of helicopters and one of the choppers from the group ahead of his was hit. So a helicopter in his mission of of helicopters was hit, but even then, each grouping wasn’t 622 Relax and Succeed - We meet ourselves time and againnecessarily close to each other.

The details don’t really matter because those will all have come from interviews with witnesses and they’ll be as flawed as Mr. William’s version. Because there’s actually nothing strange about what Williams did. You’ve done it all your life and so has everyone around you. Remember, I’m that weird kid who was laying in a hospital bed after a massive brain injury and my only entertainment was watching adults have conversations over my brain-damaged body. The most useful part was that they always spoke as though they were the only two people in the room. So by the time I had left that hospital I could figure out that a) the point of life was to have as many rewarding and enjoyable moments as possible before we die, and b) that people lied a huge percentage of the time.

These aren’t conscious lies. Those are pretty rare. Those are the ones people start counting. But all of these other ones are lies too. Which is why researchers apparently said adults lie a lot. Of course, those researchers and their participants have no way of knowing that other lies are permeated into the person’s identity, and so to me the number is still way too low.

622 Relax and Succeed - Without wearing any maskThere are two main reasons that people are comfortable slipping adaptations into their personal narratives. The first is that you don’t even notice you do it because you’re usually just solving an immediate problem. As a friend said, “My resume says ‘responsible for department payroll.’ The truth is I blindly sign time-sheets at the end of every week.” Time proves that some of those stories snowball out of control, but they are useful enough that they still get told. The second reason is that your highest self knows that you are not actually separate from anyone (or anything). So the more enlightened you become the less your own identity weighs. Empathy becomes so profound that it almost becomes a form of transference, where you literally feel a part of the other person’s experience. So later, you can easily describe it as something that has happened to you and nothing will signal you to the fact that you lied because you will have travelled through a legitimate experience you really did have.

Our memories are much more flexible than we realize. As we recall them, just as when we first had them, they will be influenced by our current context and our mood. I know you like to think you don’t lie that much—but most of these are so embedded into your life that even you’ve forgotten you’ve invented them. But if you could find them all and if you witness them being built, you’d be forgiving of yourself. Because you usually lie to be kind or to tell a larger truth. But yes, there are those times where you’ll feel insecure and you’ll elevate. You’ll simply rewrite yourself to seem better or worse because you’re feeling as though you’re doing poorly in some comparison.

622 Relax and Succeed - I am not what happened to meFor all we know the adjustment to William’s story may have been made during a macho conversation between journalists, and it happened on a day where Williams wasn’t feeling secure and so this story got this minor inflation—which was to take some details away in fact. It would have been very easy to phrase as a completely true statement that he could be almost certain would be misinterpreted. And it was to solve an insecurity problem today. But then someone overhears it and re-tells it and now it’s awkward to undo it so Williams doesn’t peddle the lie but it spreads nevertheless. Then he hears people assume it and makes use of it on another insecure night and a gentle creeping motion happens until this event gets assimilated into his original memory and even he believes it to be true when he says it. But, you stop and ask him if it’s true and he goes and looks at the memory in detail, that can be the first time the person even realizes the story isn’t true.

622 Relax and Succeed - The fear of rejectionYou’ll think you don’t do this because you’re not a braggart. But there are many reasons to lie. Avoiding responsibility would be a huge reason, but we also live in a victim society, and so there’s probably far more lies told about how badly someone’s doing rather than how good. People will torque their stories to elicit more sympathy so you’ll invest more of your time and attention on them (these are the two most valuable things in society in the new millennium). But people will also lie for you.

They will change what party an event took place at because you weren’t invited to the other party and if t hey tell that story you’ll be hurt and ask why you weren’t invited. Or you’ll tell them you like a haircut you don’t. Or maybe you’ll use one thing to communicate another. This blog is a hybrid between numerous true stories, and the reason they are melded is because they most effectively help communicate the important underlying theme I’m attempting to convey. And so I collect a bunch of true things and I reassemble them in a way that never happened as a way of more finely pointing to the truth of what did happen in all three melded stories. Make sense?

622 Relax and Succeed - Pretending to be a functioning adultA good example of a daily sort of lie that people tell very often is like a line from my last film, The Pharmacist. The main character’s best friend is helping him get over a decade of no dating by setting him up with her equally nice friends for some blind dates. Every girl asks when his last relationship was and she says “six months ago,” which is 9.5 years too few, but when you see the film you realize that to say 10 years would give the women the wrong impression of him, whereas the lie actually communicates more of who he really is. So in essence she lied to tell the truth because she understood that her friend’s underlying question wasn’t how long has been single? It was: is there some reason people aren’t dating this supposedly great guy?

As a kid I got to use this weird ability that came as a fluke from my accident, and ultimately what came of it was an ability to see through people. And that in turn made me even more compassionate. Because I did realize that people rarely lied to elevate themselves. They almost always did it to protect themselves, elevate someone else, to cover up a mistake they thought would be painful to own, or just as a social lubricant. 622 Relax and Succeed - The more I see the less I knowBottom line, even the sweetest lady at your church has told you tons of lies. I’ve been contacted by people who’ve informed me that their doctor presented a blog of mine as his personal experience, or that a corporate trainer did likewise. I’ve had priests claim their sermon was based on their life when my readers knew it was from my blog. Yes, sometimes you need to act on these things, but most times don’t let their lie bother you, because you’re being told them all day long by your employer, your kids, your parents, your friends and even strangers. Maybe even moreso for strangers because they have more freedom when you don’t know anything about them. So relax. During your lifetime some big lies will be exposed and you’ll feel silly or even stupid, but even then, you’ll eventually get old enough that you realize there’s a wisdom in aging that helps you become more accepting simply because you’ve seen more things and you really do realize much of what you believed in your life ultimately wasn’t true.

People often have excellent reasons to lie and it is only because we have invented the word truth that people presume that’s what we’re doing all the time. We’ve made honesty equal good and lying equal bad, but that would be a mistake because human interactions have never been that cut and dried and there are many times where a lie did far more good than the truth ever would have. That said it’s important to also note that intentional lies for personal gain will often have brutal and horrible consequences and these should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t get so worked up about people’s flexibility with the truth. It’s hypocritical on your part, but even more importantly it steals time away from you discussing things that feel good. And that is a far better use of your consciousness than you being a policeman for everyone else. So try to be more forgiving. Life is complicated and no one gets out without some scars. But that does not have to stop you from having an awesome day, so with that I will let you get to it. Enjoy.  🙂

peace. s

Secrets and Lies

People are telling the truth when they tell you they don’t lie. That’s because they honestly believe they don’t. But they do. We all do. We all do it all day long. We either lie or we spread someone else’s mistruths. We do this selfishly, although it’s a sweet kind of selfish where all we really want is to be part of the group. And 532 Relax and Succeed - The greatest prisonsince the group values information, we want to have valuable information, which is why secrets are the most valuable—because so few people know them.

Of course, it’s the secret part that has the value, so a fake secret is just as good as a real one. People will exaggerate to generate excitement. Every teenage boy knows the best mechanic, martial artist and computer hacker in the world. And then of course there’s manipulative lying, where people are sharing mistruths in an attempt to influence the person they’re speaking with. Since everyone naturally wants to be a part of the tribe, if the friend you’re talking to doesn’t like someone then they have to get you to not like that other person too. Because otherwise you and the other person might form your own group and exclude the friend. It’s like the Peter Gabriel lyric, “How can we be ‘1n’ if there is no ‘outside?'” 

Humans like to be involved. We like to be in situations where lots of fellow tribesmen are affirming our inclusion, which is why fame is so appealing. We just want to belong and we’ll tell any story that will help us. That includes hiding our weaknesses.

There’s a video I recently saw on the web of a couple in a car who are angry at a one ton truck driver for whatever reason. In their attempt to get revenge, they speed up in front of the truck on the highway and then they brake-check him. The truck weighs too much so it’s physically impossible for it to slow down in time, so he smashes into their rear end. It’s revenge gone 532 Relax and Succeed - No one knows what goes onhorribly bad. They’re fine, but their car is destroyed and there’s film proving it’s their fault. Now what story do you think that couple will tell their friends?

By the time friends hear that story, all of their culpability will be explained very reasonably, whereas the truck driver will be painted as an even bigger jerk than he may or may not have been. They very genuinely won’t want to own their own mistake and so they will largely subconsciously construct a version of events that keeps them in the tribe. A story that has them as victims and not as assholes. But no matter how you slice it, if you brake-check a truck you’re not only lacking in an understanding of physics, but you’re also not a victim. You went out and aggressively sought your accident. But when have you ever heard that story? The one where the person admits full fault and takes responsibility? It’s rare, we all know it. And it’s rare because we hardly do it. Because we lie instead.

I’m not making a judgment call here. I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it. They can’t help but do it. It’s simply a byproduct of who and what we are. Human ego, language and the natural desire to belong all combine to create this strange world where we tell each other we’ve done work we haven’t done, that we’ve visited gyms we didn’t go to, that we’ve slept with people we didn’t sleep with, and that we like people’s cooking and haircuts even if we don’t. We lie to save face, to save time and to save money. Ironically, we primarily do it to get respect.

If you think you don’t lie you either haven’t paid attention or you’re lying right now. As that little five year old in the hospital, it was the first thing I noticed. All the staff that came into my room lied to all the other staff that 532 Relax and Succeed - Atelophobiacame in the room. And they all did it innocently. They didn’t see their lie as a bad thing. Addicts and cheaters feel genuinely guilty and so they lie and create extra-nice things they’ve done to cushion the dirty secrets they know they’re hiding. People lie to conceal other big mistakes they’ve made as well. They lie so you’ll think they’re smarter, tougher, more experienced, more connected more more more. They’ll lie so you think more of them. And you do the same thing.

Start to monitor your lies. That’s your ego at work. Watch it manipulate things. Observe your lies and determine their objectives. Come to understand yourself better. The great part is, not only will you benefit from greater personal understanding, but you’ll also be much more forgiving of the lies you hear from others. And some empathy and compassion is always good for the world.

Have yourself a wonderful day. And I mean that. I really really really do. 😉

peace. s

Other Perspectives #40

528 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - promise me that you'll

It’s a beautiful thought, and I think anyone who starts dating should have the idea in mind that you have genuinely found the best person you know. And that’s how marriages stay healthy—by people reminding themselves of their partner’s qualities. But even then, always remember that a promise is just a word and not a thing. We can use words to make all the promises that we want, but what will decide the future will be the decisions we make in a progressive collection of Nows. You only live Now, and so you cannot say for certain what decision a different you might make at a different time. So go ahead and make your promises of intent. They still have value. But if you end up on the wrong end of a broken promise don’t think some terrible inhuman thing has happened. It’s pretty routine. In fact, kept promises might be the smallest category of all. Look, people can easily make sincere and heartfelt promises and still have valid reasons to break them. You’ll do it in your life so try not to be so judgmental about others when they do it to you. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. It can hurt like hell to have people lie to you or break a promise. But that’s all a part of life. Feeling is what you do. You’re a creature that feels the universe. So like a great movie or book, feel everything. Sadness, tragedy, lust, joy. One’s not better than the other. But you get the ones you choose. So accept promises but don’t expect them. Then life will have fewer disappointments. And that makes room for more joy, so go for it. 😉

peace. s

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Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offence to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Other Perspectives #36

504 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Apologies don't mean anything

This perception is so common that it’s actually at the heart of much of the world’s interpersonal strife, and it gets applied in a very self-serving manor. So if it’s you who accidentally over-committed yourself and you genuinely feel bad, then you offer a genuine apology, you’ll expect it to be taken sincerely. But we’re all personality types, and if you’re the type that likes to help you’ll get caught accidentally over-committing throughout your life. This is not you failing to be sincere about your apology, it’s simply the other side of you being a dedicated helper. You do feel badly about how things resulted for the offended party, but it’s not like that’s what you were aiming for. It’s a by-product of who you are. So daydreamers are creative but often late because they’re daydreaming. They aren’t failing the all-important you if they sincerely feel badly when they’ve kept you waiting. But they also don’t owe it to you to change their entire personality just to cater to your desires, rules or promises. Because if we make them timely we’ll also lose some very valuable and important aspects of their creative personality. If you make Einstein have a tidy office he may very well not become Einstein. And the same goes for every personality type. Some are good at schedules and organizing but bad at taking direction from others. Others are terrible at leading but are good confidante’s. Some are good confidantes but they’re terrible in group settings. Every coin has two sides, so stop asking other people to be one-sided coins just because that’s what you want. If you stop and really think about it a moment, you don’t want to be held to this standard either because it’s absolutely impossible. If you’re messier than your roommate, you can’t suddenly adopt their standards any more than you can suddenly drive as well as them, or feel comfortable singing in public because they can, or lose your fear of heights just because they don’t have that fear. We each are ourselves. We can change to a degree, but only in our own time through our own sense of things. So if your lover hits you then yes, they are capable of changing but that doesn’t mean they’ll figure out how. So their apologies are sincere but you simply have to accept who they are and you might have to end that relationship if they’re not going to make that change asap. Either way, that’s still not them failing you, that’s them being raised to have counter-productive life strategies. But just like you can’t change yourself for the better instantly just by knowing what “better” is, neither can they. So stop asking for the impossible. Accept who you’re with whether they’re late, or messy, or horny or violent and then act accordingly. Don’t stay in unhealthy situations, but at the same time, don’t equate apologies with commitments to change because those are two different things and even most commitments to change are little more than sincerely well-intentioned efforts to be someone we ultimately are not.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

Producing Disappointment

I ways back I used to eat my porridge every morning in a greasy spoon near where I lived. An old farmer owned it and it was one of those totally unpretentious places where everyone knew everyone, the service was fast and friendly and it wasn’t unusual to have strangers at your table. I went in the morning of my 28th birthday and ended up sitting next to a huge Aboriginal guy who was quiet, but very friendly. He heard the staff wishing me a happy birthday and he asked me how old I was turning. When I told him he said, “Ah, 28. The year you learn to say ‘no.’”

453 Relax and Succeed - There is only one wayNot long after that I got a call from a billionaire that used to meet with me fairly regularly. He used to use my ability to notice strange patterns in things to help him make business decisions, although secretly I think he was actually more interested in the fact that my Dad is my hero and I think he wanted to know how to be a hero to his kids. This time the call was all business. He was greatly expanding his television network and he wanted me to come on board to help choose and develop future programming on the both the film and TV side. I had just come off a couple of movies and a few series, so I was due for a change and I agreed. What exactly I was agreeing to though, I did not fully comprehend.

Canada was/(still is?) the second largest exporter of TV worldwide after the US, but it was still a small enough industry that all of the steady working people knew most of the people in their region and a lot of us knew most of the people from one end of the country to the other. That closeness proved to be an interesting factor when it came time to do the job.

I had a budget that was the envy of the industry. I had the freedom to work in both free and pay TV, on series as well as features. It was the only job like it in the country and it brought virtually every type of producer into my office. On average we would receive about 1600+ submissions a year, we would develop maybe 25-50 and produce about a dozen, including series. Of course those numbers meant that I was saying “no” the vast majority of the time.

The trick was, I was saying no to my friends. People who I had grown up with in the industry. People I liked and respected. People close to me. And to each of those people their projects were generally the only thing they were working on. They had all of their eggs in that basket—their heart and soul was into it, and I would be the guy who would crush their dreams of ever getting or sustaining a mortgage.

453 Relax and Succeed - If nobody hates youBeing the guy I am I was able to appreciate that someone had to make the determination. They couldn’t give the money out on a first come first served basis. Nor could we do it alphabetically, or by script weight. Someone had to give an opinion about what they thought would work and the billionaire anointed me. I won’t say that I liked turning down my friends—or even the non-friends who I knew had worked super hard on their submissions. But this wasn’t a popularity contest. I had a job and my job was to pick things that would recoup their investments and it turned out I was extremely good at that. But that meant that I had to turn down development proposals that ended up destroying companies and careers. And it’s not like I didn’t turn away some heartfelt personal stories. And undoubtedly I was wrong many times. I crushed a lot of dreams being a success at that job.

When you’re responsible for money like that it’s strange. Everyone has theories about what they would do if they had the job, but it’s much different imagining spending one million dollars on Richard Chamberlain. It’s another thing altogether to actually be responsible for one million dollars for Richard Chamberlain. Because there is no way to actually calculate beforehand if he would be worth it (it turned out he was), and there was no shortage of people I’d turned down who disagreed. I also had to chastise lazy writers, and inform neophytes about what they didn’t know. I had to not cast people’s spouses and even for those that got money, they didn’t always get what they wanted.

People used to ask me if it bothered me that there were people that hated me for those decisions (and undoubtedly for differences in our personalities too). But the answer was no, it didn’t bother me. Why would it? No matter who I chose, someone wasn’t getting money. A lot of someones weren’t. The majority of someones weren’t. And so I made a lot more people angry than I made happy. But hey, that’s why it’s tough at the top. That’s why they pay you the big bucks. But bottom line, you can’t be who you are and also cater to the desires of everyone you meet. You have to be your own person. You have to have faith in yourself. Not to be 453 Relax and Succeed - Stop being afraid of what could go wronginfallible. But to realize that you’ve been given a job because it needs doing. And your job is to do it the best you can, which I did.

We won a lot of awards and set a few records while I was there, but that’s not why I felt successful. I felt—and continue to feel—successful because I chose those projects with great care and with tremendous respect for the money I was investing and for the work that had gone into the projects. I knew I couldn’t be right every time, but I was going to be right as often as I could.

You sense of self can’t come from the approval of others. If everyone likes your decisions then you’re not making any—or at least any of consequence. To make an omelet you have to crack a few eggs. You can’t focus on the cracked shells, you have to focus on your objective, and the objective wasn’t to reject things. I’m sure there were many money makers in the “no” pile. But again, I only had so much money. So rather than focus on who I disappointed, I focused on who I could help. And I’m pleased to say that I gave a start some very talented people who’ve gone on to great careers. But I couldn’t have done that if I wasn’t prepared to put myself out there to be criticized for my decisions. I get that. If I worked two years on something and it got rejected I would be upset too. And I might even call the person who did it some names for a few minutes after I found out about the rejection. But eventually that would wear off and I would know that someone had to choose, and they couldn’t say yes to everything and so it only makes sense that we all have a better chance of being in “no” pile.

453 Relax and Succeed - You are not designedDon’t let fears of being liked prevent you from doing what you think is right. You absolutely will be wrong quite often, just like all of us. But as long as you’re right more than you’re wrong, they let you keep playing the big sandbox.

I’m glad to be out of that now. I had a ton of fun at the height of the industry—just before the internet took the legs out from underneath the golden age. It was nice hotels, limos, cool festivals and real life movie stars. But you got none of that unless you were willing to have some writer scream obscenities at you in a hotel bar. You had to be willing to know that a good friend considered you the reason that her business failed. Again, everyone has their separate realities and it’s obvious I would be the villain in many people’s rejection narratives. But that’s like having someone mad at you because you don’t want to date them. You’re not saying they’re not worth anything. You’re just saying they don’t match you.

Don’t be a pleaser. Be yourself and those who love you will make ample room for your choices. You’re not here to make us happy, you’re here to make you happy. So respect people. Be empathetic to their pain. But as much as possible, don’t let the downsides dictate a decision. Just make the best decisions you can with the information you have and go from there. And just always remember that they could be right; you could be wrong. 😉

peace. s

Other Perspectives #26

444 Relax and Succeed  Rebuttal - One day someone will be

This sounds like some person steeling themselves after a breakup. If we’re going to work toward a better life then we have to recognize the world in which it would take place, and there is no world where there is some 100% honest person. People are people and they see things different ways and they have different values and they will all—your mother, your grandfather, your best friend and your spouse—lie to you. And you will lie to them. The only people you haven’t lied to are the ones you haven’t talked to. You’ve lied by omission because you didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. So you lied because you care about them. That’s why this idea is so crazy. It doesn’t even take motivation into account. And no, we’re not eight year old girls (with no offence to eight year old girls), there is no prince looking for you or me or anyone else. Why do you need that? Are you really paying attention to the world around you? Have you noticed that there’s seven billion people living here? If you only like 1% of them that’s still 70 million awesome people. So why do you want one person to fill every need? How much do you dislike this prince that you’re going to put all of that on him? Just live your life. Do what interests you and that will bring you into contact with people who are similar, and if nature goes the direction of a relationship then maybe you’ll connect. Or maybe not. But what difference does it make if you’re doing what you like with similar people who value it too? Go have a good day. Not because of who you’re with. But because of who you are.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.