A coworker said something that really resonated with me today. This particular person said a ton of other jibber jabber that felt like a repeated bunch of “I like to hear myself talk, half of you tune me out, so I’m going to repeat it again” but after sorting through it all there was this one story that really stuck with me. He talked about the other people that work in our company that we never see, the people that install our projects and the people that help get our projects to the roofs. This coworker then told us to get to know them… because it’s our constant dedication to our work, keeping them busy and employed, that allows for them to feed their families.
Whoa… I never thought about that.
It really got through to me. There are a lot of times that when I’m working to generate leads that I just don’t feel all that excited about doing the work. It could be purely because I don’t feel like having someone shit on my head because they had a rough day, it could be to avoid listening to someone for 90 minutes about something totally unrelated to the work because they’re a lonely energy vampire, or it could be even related to my social battery being at a complete 0 because of the previous 2 examples. To think that my, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” attitude that can envelop me from time to time can affect such a broad scope of people is one hell of a stressor.
If I don’t work, someone’s kids may not eat. Fuck, man…
This message goes deeper than that. This is a larger thought that spans many aspects of our lives. If we don’t do our job, who else is affected by it? Does it affect our family? Our significant other? Does it affect the people that you never actually interacted with? Does it affect your mood, therefor affecting the people in your immediate social circle that day? What else could have happened…?
But this goes even DEEPER. It’s really just a profound but yet specific way of thinking of the butterfly effect. We make decisions all day long and these decisions are going to impact the people around you, around them, and strangers you know nothing about… just because you did or did not do something. When you choose to sleep another 30 minutes and throw your morning behind a little bit, maybe you missed out on meeting that stranger you would have said hello to… which could have been the reason that they decided to brighten someone else’s day with a “Hello.” Maybe that “hello” you would have given them would have lightened their spirits to a point where they felt lucky and bought a Powerball ticket…and then WON. Yeah, it’s a streeeeeeeeeeetch, but to drive a point home it takes a really over-the-top example.
Then again, to think about these things can be an utter waste of time. A close friend once told me, “Everything is perfect, because it has to be.” He’s right, it has to be. We cannot sit on what we “could have” done or what we “should have” done, but before we make a decision we can certainly ponder on how it may affect others. My laziness today, whether it be exercising or a business generation exercise, eating healthy or eating comfort food, ignoring a phone call or calling someone back, will have a broader effect than on just yourself. Our choices change lives, one “hello” at a time or just one “Fuck it” at a time.
I still remember the day, time, and place that I decided to start jiujitsu. I was sitting in a Planet Fitness parking lot in 2009 (this is before they ripped away our squat racks, dumbells, etc. It used to be a decent gym. There was absolutely ZERO purple equipment. Just a re-branded local gym.) after a workout. My friend had invited me to come train with him on a Wednesday night only 10 minutes away from said Planet Fitness. My anxiety levels would always be so high for trying new things that it would be far easier for me to procrastinate or say “next time” than to actually go do it.
Martial arts, MMA, BJJ, kickboxing…all things that I had been dying to try, just never had worked up the courage to go try them. Friends had talked me out of it back in college. “C’mon Oakey, we’re going to be way too hungover for that. Who are you kidding?” To do it by myself always seemed so intimidating so I never bothered. There was a place less than a mile from my house, still… I wouldn’t go. Not even the convenience factor was enough. It wasn’t until I got this invitation from a person who I used to know, did I have a clear-cut path to get involved.
There I sat, 30 minutes before class time in my white Pontiac GT weighing out my options. Finally, after being unable to find any real reason to not do it, my 25 year old self said “fuck it” and I drove the 10 minutes, signed the waiver, and had the time of my life. I remember not being able to get the smile off my face. I remember being the ridiculous white belt going way, WAY too hard. I remember being told to stop burping on the mats. Wildly enough, the same instructor that taught me that day in Cordage Park in Plymouth, taught me yet again TODAY on Main Street in Taunton. I’ve known no one in the martial arts world as long as I’ve known this particular individual… and for this, I am grateful.
That one “Fuck it” RADICALLY changed my life. A young man with little confidence, a job in retail, no real skills and because of that one little decision… he fell into an endless rabbit hole of the wide world of martial arts. With what was an initial interest to fight, it then became an interest in teaching and the business as a profession. I still have students I taught years ago that reach out to me and thank me for different lessons they learned, skills they gained, or qualities that became of them. There are children that were so riddled with anxiety, frustration, anger, and a lack of confidence that their parents were ready to either medicate them or seek therapy. Without hearing me out, they would have quit on behalf of the best interest of their children. Knowing what it did for me, I recited this to the parents, begging for their trust in the process. Every now and then, I hear they are still training and the parents don’t know what they would do without it.
But had it not been for that “fuck it” in the Planet Fitness parking lot, every interaction I’ve had with someone since 2009 would be a totally different one. Who’s to say I would even be here? So as much as it really doesn’t matter to think “What if…” it really does matter to think about “What if…” because it can actually be a really positive and choice affirming exercise. To look back upon a particular life changing moment for yourself, then to look at all the lives that you changed afterwards, is a strong reminder that there is no real “selfish” decision. Each decision we make affects someone else… someway, somehow, somewhere.