Sunday, April 23, 2017
Who Needs Who
You are the person responsible for making sure your life is what you want it to be. You must look out for your own best interests and in order to do that you must know what they are with sharp clarity. If you don't there are legions of people seeking to convince you they know best and to follow them, sometime with altruistic intentions and other times with purely selfish aims. It would be ideal if we could live a bubble, protected by our own unbreakable will but in the real world getting what we need means working with others. Aligning with others whose goals are similar to our own can be a source of immense power but only if their intentions are true.
How do we know? Discerning a true friend and ally from the cons, thieves, liars, leeches, the time wasters and various other pathological personalities out there is sometimes tough, but possible. Again, the most reliable way to protect yourself is to know yourself. Have a clear idea of who you are, what you want and how you plan to make that happen (not necessarily a thing, it could also be an outcome like good health). These things are your ruler with which to measure the claims of others. If your ruler is flimsy and easily bent the measurements you make will be inaccurate. One of the things I want is to pass this country on to future generations better than I found it, one whose economy is strong, creative and sustainable. A life in which we get what we need by making it ourselves. Having that ideal end goal in mind allows me to know who is is working against me and who is potentially working with me.
Potentially? Yes, because what people say and what people do is not always the same. Talk is cheap and so it doesn't cost a faker much to spin a great story hoping to reel in a sucker. History is littered with more examples of such people than I can list here. The only defense is to watch closely what a person does and ignore what they say they're doing. Lets consider a few scenarios:
You've been at Company X for two years as a long term temp with no benefits with hopes of getting hired on full time and moving up to a position doing what you are passionate about. Every three months when you're contract is up for renewal you mention this to your supervisor. They tell you you're a stellar, hard working employee and that if you keep it up, they'll hire you on full time and move you into department you want. Once in awhile you get a minor role in some of the work you want to be doing but 95% of the time you're doing data entry and answering phones. Then two months back they hired a person to do the job you wanted. You mention it to your supervisor and they tell you the same story as before, we value you just hold on.
Fast forward a year from this fork in the road. Fork A: A year later you are stuck in the same job, hearing the same justification to keep doing what you are doing. Fork B: You say fork it, and decide to take matters into your own hands. You do some calling around to other companies, bullshit your way past secretaries and HR and find people doing the exact job you dream of doing. You ask them how they got there and what you might need to do in order to accomplish the same. You keep the same shitty job to cover rent and food, but at night you're working on getting certifications and reading up on everything mentioned in your conversations with the pros. Eventually you get your skills leveled up, start dropping highly targeted resumes and a year later you've got not one but two job offers for positions doing what you want and paying way more than crappy temp job. Which option serves you best? In that option who holds the power.
You've been on 6 dates with a girl you're crazy about. The dates went well enough so you try to bring the relationship to the next level. She tells you you're sweet and amazing but that she isn't ready for that right now because she's still getting over her abusive,cheating jerk of an ex. "Well, I'm clearly better than him," you think, " I'll prove to her that I'm worthy and when I do she'll give me the love I want". And so you go on more expensive dates, flowers delivered to her job, help her with chores, when her car breaks down you give her rides and even give her money to help fix it. She happily accepts these things but you notice the only times you hear from her are when you initiate contact or she needs something. One day you log into Facebook and see her and her jerk ex are now friends and she's commented on several photos of his. Think forward a year. You keep doing the same things hoping she'll come around. Are you happy? Do you feel in control of the situation? What if instead you decide to let Miss Hard-to-Get chill for a while and talk to a bunch of attractive girls you encounter in your daily life. To your surprise some of them have the same qualities that made your crush attractive, and some of these are attracted to you too. A few are calling you first, making efforts to show you they care. Maybe Miss Hard-to-Get feels a little jealous and ups her game, maybe you like one of the new girls better. Either way, are you happy in this situation? Do you feel in control of the outcome?
In each example one outcome shows the power which comes from seeing options and following those paths which align with your internal compass until the desired destination is reached. The other approach is one of being impeded by external barriers that others were allowed to define. Power is options. It is the ability to walk away from a bad choice because better choices are apparent. It is needing them less than they need you. With that in mind consider a final scenario.
You live and work in a small town. There used to be four factories but 3 have closed and went overseas. The call center in town did too. You still have a job with an engineering firm, but the big companies you contract with are sending more work to India or China every year. Main Street is desolate. You need both hands to count your friends from high school who are on heroin, in jail or dead. The house rep for your district is seeking a 5th term. He is a member of your chosen party and you've voted for him before because he says he cares deeply about the middle class and works tirelessly every day to help them. His ads show how he got some grant money to help retrain people who got laid off when the last factory closed. You do some research and see that program helped 10 people retrain. 100 were fired when the plant closed. Your rep says free trade will benefit everyone and that the economy is improving. It's decision time. What would you do?