New Year’s Resolution — Stop It
First things first. Any resolution you decide to embark on in 2019 does not belong to the new year. It’s not a new year’s possession. It is something only you can own. Maybe that’s why so many people get it wrong. They never take ownership of their decisions to improve life or otherwise.
So please, moving forward, if you feel the need to make a resolution for yourself, please refer to it as it should be: A New Year Resolution. It’s a contract you make with yourself to change something about what you are doing or not doing that may affect your life in a negative manner.
Whew. I’m glad I got that out of the way.
Now onto why I’m writing. It’s been a while. In fact, I have to go back to September when I last shared thoughts on page. It’s been a tumultuous year, if I’m being completely candid. I accepted a new role at my company in August and with it, I inherited a significant amount of anger and frustration from the group I represent. There were a few touch and go months where I questioned my sanity for taking on the role. It was toxic. It was damaging and, I made the biggest mistake you can make in an organization in turmoil — I took all of that energy on myself. Even though my logical brain understood it wasn’t personal, my emotional brain took on significant collateral damage.
What happened next, I couldn’t have imagined. My paranoia resurfaced. Something I thought was in check from years of self-affirmation and the help of an extremely caring partner. But there it was. I need to mention, there was a back story which was a catalyst for what came. Months earlier, one of my Medium blogs came into the hands of an individual from my organisation and this person painted a picture that I was — racist. It created a firestorm in my workplace and the effects were immediate. Their anger and frustration now had a firm target and it was me.
The outcome, even though the blog I had written was an anti-racist piece - had to come down. It didn’t matter what the truth was; only what the perception of my group was. I was hurt. But I obliged my management team, in the interest of moving things forward. The next few months showed me where loyalties lied, demonstrated how respect could be taken away as quickly as it was earned and taught me that idealism isn’t a way to win people over.
I took a lot of cues from this, spent a great deal of time discussing it with mentors, leaders and friends. What I knew, in my heart, was I didn’t want to start erecting walls in order to block out the negative energy. I had to look within and re-evaluate how my perception of the world varied from those around me. Essentially, I had to rewire my brain.
No simple task. At 55 (as of this coming Wed) this old dog had to change his way of thinking. It’s a work in progress and, it is my New Year Resolution. To become better. To listen more. To understand more. To be more empathetic in the face of adversity.
My journey started about 6 weeks ago when I took the St. John’s first aid mental health course. It forced me to look inside but more importantly, it forced me to really look at the stranger standing in front of me, fists clenched, lashing out at another stranger with little or no context. How could I take this on?
By listening. No judgement. No preconceived ideas and maybe the most important item — no bias based on information from someone other than who was now confronting me.
Judging people is something we all do. It can be based on a look, an action or, it can be based on a story someone else told you. We already know stories told second hand are not reliable. We should know that bias will always be a part of someone’s perception of another. So why would we judge someone without ever having spoke to them…
That’s my resolution. Listen first and speak if asked to. No snap judgements. No anger. No walls.
I’ve started to repeat the following words over and over again, both to myself and now, I share with my peers at any opportunity:
- If it is going to feel good to say it and it’s negative, stop, take a deep breath and let it go.
- Be honest. You don’t have to be a jerk to be honest. Being honest has more to do with expressing how you feel about something versus how you feel about someone.
- Be kind. It sounds hard and it takes work because it is extremely easy to be mean. I can tell you this; being mean is far less rewarding.
My new journey has already shifted immensely based on those 3 little ideas. I understand we can’t win everyone over and, that’s not something we’re supposed to own.
Own your own trunk and recognize when you have to unpack that trunk and reorganize it.
Here’s to all of you in 2019 and your New Year Resolution.