At the core of every business isn’t money. It’s relationships.
Now, I don’t mean that you need to go on a business retreat and hold hands with your coworkers as you dance around a campfire singing Kumbaya. But we can be practicing ways of relating to others that build mutual respect, trust, and maybe even some love.
I believe that the better we relate to ourselves, the better we will relate to others. And at the core of every relationship is the one you have with yourself.
That requires a journey into our hearts and minds. And what we will find at the center of it all is a story.
For we all have a story we believe about ourselves.
The stories that we have flowing within us vary. There was a time when my success got to my head. And I thought I was this amazing person and started to think I was better than other people. But I was just one of the millions of small business owners in our country. I wasn’t better; I was just stupid.
On my best days, I believe I’m a son of God, loved, and free to enjoy life as a gift. And on those days I tend to treat people well. I see them as a delight, even if some of them may be grumpy. Complaints are seen as obstacles to be scaled and failure, lessons to be learned.
On my worse days, I see myself as a complete failure and idiot, undeserving of any love. Those are the days you probably want to avoid me.
But getting to know the stories that live within us is a challenge. That’s especially true in this time and age where our phones feel more like a limb that is attached to us than a piece of hardware in our pockets. And that limb is constantly slapping us around to get our attention.
You need to make space, time, and silence to get to know yourself. And when you do, you need to reflect on your life, the interactions you’ve had, the things you tell yourself, the stories others have told about yourself that you believe; and you need to sit in it. Marinate in all of that and grasp how it drives you, scares you, frees you, helps and hinders you. Only by taking the time to think about these things do you get to know yourself. And once you do, you will understand why you treat others the way you do.
Some of you have a deep inner critic, and your story is one that says what you do and who you are is never enough. So you, in turn, do the same to others, always showing them their shortcomings. I mean, how can you say anything kind to anyone when you’re so busy beating the crap out of yourself in your mind?
Others of you tell yourself that you can’t show weakness because you’re not safe. Your story stops you from saying you’re sorry or admitting fault to others because that’s showing vulnerability. It’s not that you’re perfect–not at all. But you’d be damned if you would let anyone see you as incapable or, worse, incompetent.
Many of the stories that we tell ourselves aren’t even real. For instance, if you call yourself a failure, you need to know you’re not. If you’re alive, you can still choose to give it another go. There are too many false stories floating around in us that need to be dispelled. Ferret out those lies and find the truth.
Most of my childhood into my freshman year of college oozed with anger. I wanted to break things often, even people. My father died when I was eight. And it felt like I had been robbed of all of that time I should have had with him. And, as a result, a rage rose inside me. Talking back to my teachers, fighting with my classmates, and hating people wasn’t uncommon for me. Then, I heard that Jesus loved me enough to give up everything and die for me to destroy death, the enemy that I saw ravage my dad and rip him away from me. And I believed. Jesus’s story overcame my father’s, and that changed me. I still had a temper, but it flared less. And mostly I was at peace, gentler, better, healed.
Don’t we all long to be rooted in a story drenched in love, worth, dignity, beauty, grace, and goodness? If we are, how can we not extend the same to others? It’s what will naturally flow from us since it’s at our core. After all, we can only give what we have.
And living out of that story isn’t as easy as reciting it to ourselves and being done. We have short memories, I’m afraid. We need to retell it to ourselves over and over. We need to write it down on paper and etch it on our souls.
And then you will find yourself pouring that story out to others through your actions in your office, at conferences, and maybe, just maybe, at a business retreat around a campfire singing Kumbaya with your coworkers.