A Class Act - Part 1c

I will discover where I fit in the world and enjoy the journey

The third part of our discussion looks at how our first guiding principle of confidence and authenticity, help you become or maintain being a class act in respect to the “big picture”. This involves perspective and a healthy degree of humility to balance out who you are and even in defending who you are in this big world of ours.

There was a time I was working an afternoon paper route and a neighbor’s dog came barreling down their driveway at the moment I passed by. He rammed right into my car so hard, that is created a dent. The dog ran off like it was nothing. When I finished my route, I called the customer about it. He quickly turned the tables on me, and let me know that “his guns were bigger than my guns” - meaning that 1) he saw it as my fault, and 2) if I pursued this in a legal sense, he could easily out-hire me in the courts and win. As a young man, that was a stinging reality check. It just wasn’t right! Yes, I could use my lifetime to fight the way our legal system works (and possibly affect no change in it), but the reality is that unless I do that, I need to pony up to the fact that “it’s the way it works”. Money is power in the legal system and in other places. I didn’t have much of it at that time, but my customer did. So, I had a choice to make. I could see that there was no way I was going to win this one, so the smartest and classiest thing I did was to walk away.

There will be other situations in life that will be way bigger than you. Bigger issues in people than your help and advice can fix. Bigger problems at work than you have the authority to handle. Bullies you won’t be able to change. Evil you cannot right. And so on. The famous Serenity Prayer from AA says it well: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” This is good advice.

Another author, Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great (good reading, by the way), compared people to those on a bus. Using his analogy for work situations he talked about people either being on the right (or wrong) bus, and in the right (or wrong) seat on that bus. Putting that in more practical terms, you might find yourself employed by a good company, but not necessarily in the best position suited for your skill set, experience, or personality. Once you realize this, (that you’re in the wrong seat) you might first ask yourself if you’re on the right bus, meaning - is this a company you want to work for? Is it worth pursuing a different position? Looking at the benefits, commute time, the hours you work (and if you have to or get to work overtime, etc) and other things, is it worth what you might risk to pursue more? If you ask for a different position, what’s the worst that could happen? If you’re looking for a move up, will you get resistance, or resentment from coworkers? Will that matter? (you could be their supervisor one day). Think it through. Compare it to the gym. If you want things (your body) to change, you will have to deal with some resistance in order to build strength. Your job is that way. Life is that way. Timing, and your own motivation can be the difference between success and utter failure. But what if you ask, and the timing seemed right, and you still get a no, or even a reprimand for asking? Again - compare it to the gym. Look at it, and check to be sure you weren’t lifting too much too fast.

Not everything you try is going to work. Not everyone you ask is going to say yes. But if you never try or never ask, you definitely won’t get anything to work or get a yes. Your confidence can stay strong, even after failures or rejection. Reassess. Try again. (look hard at the “when”.) And don’t give up. Stay authentic. Don’t let a failure or denial cause you to change who you are - unless those things cause you to look at yourself in such a way that you realize you NEED to change. In that case, go for it! Work at it. When you’re working out for months, you don’t want the same body you walked in with. You want it to change. If you can look at the challenges of life that way, you can enjoy a whole lot more of the journey.

You might have a great idea, but the timing is wrong. You might have a contribution to the conversation but you didn’t get the chance. You might have a opportunity with that woman you want to talk to, but she passed you by. Again, persistence (grit), confidence (guts), and timing (a class act) can make the difference. Keep on keeping on, Maverick Man.

Discovering who you are is a lifetime achievement. It never stops. There will always be new challenges to what you believe, what you like, or what is right. You won’t always have a chance to think about that specific thing in the moment of the challenge. Knowing who you are and what you believe, and what you stand for helps to meet those challenges with class and confidence.

And whether you’re 17 or 75, you can work on gaining confidence and being authentic by developing and improving the gifts and qualities that you have. This will strengthen how you see yourself and will change how you present yourself to others. Seek out mentors and/or experiences that will affirm these gifts and qualities or redirect you to something that will be better suited for you. As you gain in proficiency, experience and knowledge about the different areas of life, you’ll also be gaining the confidence others can’t help but notice. And, as you probably guessed, that is very classy.

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