No more measuring stick, toxic people, nor enabling

This is Season 1 Episode 5, and in today’s episode we’ll discuss that if you want to be happy, get rid of the measuring stick; toxic people and what to do about it; and enabling, the false help act of harming someone you love or want to protect.

            As the best summary of any and all advice worthy of sharing, I’d like to include in this program excerpts followed by applicable commentary, from a column published in the Chicago Tribune on June 1st, 1997 by Mary Schmich entitled “Wear Sunscreen”. I won’t read the entire publishing because I don’t want to get a copyright strike, but I strongly recommend you find it, read it or listen to it entirely.

Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen

Lyrics by Mary Schmich song by Baz Luhrmann

            “Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll [celebrate] your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.

But trust me on the sunscreen.”

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            Logic would say that if you take a business model and copy exactly the same formula from the life of a successful person or business, you can without a doubt achieve the same results. Though this is a good positive stance and no doubt a great place to start, the variables are infinite and the likelihood of it being 100% true is unlikely, but you can get pretty close. “Aim for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”.

            The thing they rarely tell you is to not fall for the measuring stick. It’s hard not to measure your progress or sense of success by not comparing yourself to others that, in your own eyes, are more successful than you. “The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.” So don’t compare the progress you’ve made in a few months with what has taken someone else years to build. Believe me, once you start, you’ll start seeing a lot of possibilities and paths you can take to make your business your own. There will be things you do not want to incorporate in your business, time allotments that you’ll disagree with your mentors about. And that is completely OK. Then you’ll realize way in the future, that obsessing over copying someone else was pointless and frustrating. Use it as a guide, not a road map.

            Remember that happiness needs the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit. Don’t think for a moment that any of these can be neglected or sacrificed in the name of progress because you won’t make it far enough to se success. If you don’t love yourself and your day-to-day life, you won’t have the strength to overcome the obstacles that wait for you ahead and you’ll give up.

            The other thing to consider is that everybody’s lives are different, this is very important because sometimes I still lose sight of this even today. I’ve seen very wealthy investors that seem to have it all at a glance, but are lonely and overweight because they didn’t take care of the other facets of their lives.

            Let me share something with you that surprised me when I learned about it. Do you know what actual real estate investors really drive? I won’t comment on other professions or areas of investments because real estate was the path I chose and ‘till this day I still strongly recommend. They drive Fords, most of them pick-up trucks. And not all tricked out, but working, practical vehicles. Real Estate Investors are among the humblest people I know. You wouldn’t know how much money they have or what their net worth is, just by looking at them, what they drive, or what they wear. I dress in suits like this here for you. But most of us like wearing shorts and flip-flops and t-shirts just like everybody else.

So hopefully this gives you a different more applicable meaning to the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”. So don’t be quick to dismiss someone that’s wearing a t-shirt, nor quick to copy someone wearing a suit. Get rid of the measuring stick, it’s useless.

            One inevitable thing that will happen once you start transforming your life into the one you’ve always dreamed of, is the people you’ll choose to surround yourself with. I hope you don’t hate me for saying this but your current friends, family and coworkers, will start to lose their appeal and you’ll find yourself spending less and less time with them.

            We are the average of the five closest people we spend the most time with. As you start to see the path you need to take to find what it is you love to do, how to get paid for it, and live happily ever after, you’ll also start to understand that it’s nearly impossible to grow into the successful person you want to be without changing your environment. I’m not saying to stop hanging out with your family and friends; and most of us don’t really have a choice in the matter of how much time we spend with coworkers. What I’m saying is to find ways to spend more time with the people you want to become.

            The reason why we are in this place in life to begin with is because of the way we think. You’ll think closely like the people around you. Those friends and family that are currently around us want to protect us and they have their own ideas and beliefs. When you start sharing your ideas of entrepreneurship and your dreams for your future that you intend to turn into goals, 9 out of 10 times you’ll be encountered with rejection, how many things can go wrong, and how many ways you’re going to fail. It’s not that people are bad; it’s that people usually project their own fears onto the world and it’s their way to protect you. We need to change your beliefs from “no you can’t do that” to “yes you can”. So now you see why you should seek out people that will encourage you and teach you how to accomplish what you want, when you need advise on business; and keep your business to yourself when you’re around friends and family. This is most important at the beginning when your fears of failure and decisions to take risks are still fragile.

            This is completely different from toxic people. The difference between negative people, toxic people, and simply unhappy people is their determination for influencing you. Here’s a clear example however not all situations are this obvious: a friend or coworker that is always tired or hung-over or sharing their marital problems with the world is a negative person; a friend or coworker that tries to keep you awake online or on the phone or is constantly pressuring you to go drinking with them and guilt you into it when you say “no” or constantly emotionally manipulate you to get their way is a toxic person.

            Toxic people are hurt. They are so selfish, self-centered, and manipulative, that they don’t even realize they’re doing it. They are extremely unhappy people that consciously or subconsciously, want everyone around them to be unhappy too. If you can get away from them or move work spaces, then do it; if you cannot because they’re your spouse or a family member, seek professional counseling. Notice I specified “professional”, not your buddies’ or pals’ advice. Unless they have a counseling license, their advice is only going to make matters worse even if it comes from a good place. Also remember that not all counselors are created equally, if you don’t “click” or like their style, get another counselor. Counselors are people too, and some of them bring their personal problems and feelings into other people’s lives as well.

            Changing your mind and adjusting your path is wise; doing it every week is foolish. Give a method or business modal a fair chance (“fair” being extremely subjective, I’d say 3 – 6 months) before deciding to change it. Give your mentors, coaches, and trainers a fair chance before replacing them (two or three sessions). If you didn’t have the choice to return to them, would you still replace them? If you’re not sure, then stick around a little longer until you are.

Don’t be like the restaurant that changed their name every week because they thought the name was the reason nobody ate there.

            As some stories go, a friend of a friend of a friend came from a family of substance abuse and he expressed to me that he needed help and support. The details of his background are not important.

            Most of us know of AA meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous) but I didn’t know there are also support groups for friends and family members of those who suffer from alcohol or substance abuse. It’s jarring to go into a new group alone; I understand that, so when he asked me to be his “wing-man” for the first few sessions, I agreed. Another opportunity for me to learn something new presented itself. At worst I would be better prepared to help others in need.

            It was during those sessions that I learned what enabling is. As most people, I knew the meaning of the word, I didn’t know the scope and magnitude that the meaning entailed. I will share this story with you, not for shock value, but in hope that it may teach you something as well. An older gentleman in our group is married to an alcoholic. Alcoholism is very real and a very serious problem; like drug abuse, it affects everyone around the person suffering. He loved his wife very much and she didn’t have a driver’s license, so whenever she needed a drink she would convince him to go buy it for her. As with most good people, our first impulse is to help; this mistake is called enabling.

            Enabling also applies to apparently benign things that might actually be part of your life. She also had him pay the bills, account for finances, grocery shopping, etc. She also had him fight her battles for her. Most spouses don’t have a problem with any of this, especially men; but we don’t realize just how much harm we are causing. The possibly outcomes are devastating.

             The problem with enabling is that we are actually depriving the other person’s chances to grow. To fail and to learn from our mistakes is essential for life to have meaning, and for us to realize our purpose and potential of what we’re capable of achieving. Without purpose, life has no meaning. So she would invite friends over for dinner, then forget about it and have him call them to cancel; she would buy things impulsively and have him return the items; any credit card regrets or overdrafts and she would have him call the bank and fight the charges. It was easy for her to keep making the same mistakes because she had someone else cleaning after her, so she never learned how to fend for herself and the sense of responsibility and consequences that come from our decisions.

            His story concluded in which he eventually stopped enabling her, and after many fights, negotiations, and a healing process, she started figuring out and doing things for herself; she became more responsible and understanding of the problems when they arose; and in the end she was even grateful for the help he actually provided by deciding to no longer get involved. She also stopped drinking because she realized the pain she was causing, on top that it was too expensive and too much of a pain to get a ride.