One of the greatest things to know in life is to know who my friends are. Then again, and adversely, one of the best things to understand about life is to understand who my friends aren’t.
This is helpful. It is even more helpful to realize that if we look, people will always show us who they are. There will be people that say and not do and then there are people that will do and never say. There are those that have the need to talk behind your back and there are those that will never defy the old classic rule, which is never betray someone’s trust.
I think most importantly is the kind of friends I invest in are the kind that hold to the dignity of true friendship. And more so, the friends that I invest in are the ones that understand confidentiality and they maintain this, even if the friendship comes to an end.
Back in my days of the knucklehead life, the one saying that carried the most weight was “Never rat on your friends.” Unfortunately, one of the lessons I had to learn was there is no honor amongst thieves (or knuckleheads). And more unfortunately, I remember learning this lesson while cuffed to a desk in a detective’s office. I remember the smile on his face as he read out a statement against me. This was offered to him by someone I considered to be a friend. Only, this “so-called” friend of mine gave me up so that he could skip on something that I would go down for. This is one of my first lessons that caused me to redefine the word friend.
A friend is a person attached to another by a feeling or connection, a commonality, or an alliance, or as it is now in the current world; a friend is someone connected with another on a social media website.
(I hate the last part of this definition. It even says this in the dictionary.)
My version of friendship has changed throughout the years. Then again, my friends have changed throughout the years too.
Then again, so have I.
I’m not who I was and I am certainly not a knucklehead anymore. However, although there is no honor amongst thieves or knuckleheads, I have learned one painfully undeniable truth. The truth is there is more honesty in the street life than there is in the boardroom. Both are equally cutthroat at times; however, the consequences are certainly clearer in the street culture. Hell, in some cases, people in the corporate world are rewarded for their disloyalty. Maybe this happens in the street life too but eventually, justice is served and usually in a painful nature.
I have seen a lot of different things over the last few years. I have learned more about myself and I’ve learned about people. I’ve learned about the way people live. As a coach and as a specialist, I have met people from all walks of life. I have seen the poorest of the poor and while I can’t say that I’ve met the richest of the rich, I can say the only people that ever stiffed me for money were wealthy. This is not to say that the poor never stiffed me because they did. But more accurately, the reason the infraction is worse is because it’s not like the wealthy couldn’t pay me. They just chose not to.
And who knows? Maybe this is greed. Maybe this is pride or this is a problem with ego. Maybe this is selfish self-centeredness at its best.
Maybe the reason why people turn or become disloyal or maybe the reason why people rip each other off is more simple than not. Either way, people will always show who they are. We have to watch though. We have to pay attention and look for the signs and the red flags. And put simply, when people show you who they are, it is smart to believe them.
I had to learn to change the way I invest in my relationships. I had to learn there will be times when I have to move away. I learned that I cannot and should not chase people or try to convince anyone to be in my life.
I am thinking about a speech from a baseball coach named John Scolinos. He talks about the size of home plate, which is 17 inches. He mentions how this never changes. The distance we pitch from might change from little league and up — but the size and shape of home plate never changes. No matter what. The strike zone is always the same.
We can never make home plate wider to suit our needs. No matter what, 17 inches is always going to be 17 inches. At no point does home plate change its size and we cannot change the strike zone just because we are lacking or miss the pitch. Coach Scolinos explains life is this way too.
I say this is a lesson for me. I say this is a lesson about dignity and truth. And I think about my 17 inches. I think about what this means to me. I think about the people I choose to be around and the ones that I choose to stay away from. This is all to match the dignity of my 17 inches.
I think about this and my professional life. Those I choose to work with are those that can honor my 17 inches. I look to work with people that adhere to their integrity because they understand what 17 inches means to them.
People like this do not look to manipulate or lie or cheat and widen their plate.
No, the people I choose to be around are the ones that honor me by being honest with me, which is not to say dishonesty or mistakes never occur. Then again, no pitcher throws a strike every time either. Sometimes we fall short of ourselves and we miss our target. We make mistakes. Sometimes we give into the ideas of insecurity or the fears that suggest we might not make it. But still, make it or not, pass or fail, 17 inches will always be 17 inches.
This is life. This is how life works. We can pretend. We can cheat as well but in the end, violating my personal dignity is only cheating myself. And the same goes for anyone.
I was once taught that a man’s word is like his bank account. His promise is like a check. And so long as there are funds in the account, the check is worth the number that’s printed on it. However, if there are no funds in the account, the check is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. Therefore, a promise is only worth the action that comes behind it.
I am facing some new and interesting choices. I think first and foremost, when considering my choices, I have to ask myself, “What is my 17 inches?”
I can’t change my shape or size. I have to honor and adhere to the dignity of my truth. And, my truth is 17 inches is 17 inches.
There is no negotiation or compromise; therefore, there is no reason to negotiate or compromise my position. Going forward, and to find what fits me best, I have to find what incentivizes me the most. And to me, there is nothing that incentivizes me more than living a happy, productive lifestyle, because to me, that is my 17 inches!
So what’s yours?