Driving through Boston today and seeing a bunch of college kids moving out of their dorms, I reflected back a bit on how I think now, vs. how I thought then.
As far as interpersonal stuff goes, there are two quotes that pretty much nail it:
From Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons," and from Margaret Thatcher: "Being powerful is a lot like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
The longer in the tooth I get, the more I see the wisdom in the above lines. Whatever people tell you about themselves, they probably aren't. As to why they feel the need to tell you? Well, who knows. But people who are something just sort of are it.
Whether it's honesty, trustworthiness, loyalty, diligence, or whatever, if it's on display, it's there to be seen [and I will acknowledge that I bragged about my work ethic in my last post...so perhaps it's not as good as I say it is].
If someone tells you about someone or something they "don't care about," completely unprompted by you? It's probably a really big deal.
If someone is yelling at you to "just calm down!" even though you just asked a basic question using your indoor, 45 rpm voice, they might need to chill out a bit.
If someone feels insistent about knocking you off a high horse that you're not on, and never said you were, they might need a dismounting of their own.
None of that would have been obvious to me 10 years ago. 10 years ago, I never really would've *gotten it* if you tried to explain to me that people with bumper stickers that said "Coexist" and "Try Tolerance" are some of the least tolerant people among us. In fact, I would even be so bold now as to say that I'd expect an inverse correlation between actual open-mindedness and the presence of bumper stickers like these.
I've also had the fortune to be around some really high-performers, first at my initial duty station in the military, and then again in civilian life years down the road. I never would've known that most really, really successful people don't need to remind others about it, and they don't try to tear other people down. Whether it's because they're successful or whether it's what made them successful, they don't have a zero-sum mentality. As hard of an audience as they might be to get, they're sometimes the most receptive to new concepts and possibilities.
Much like the paradox of the "Coexist" bumper stickers, this wasn't always so obvious to me.
So, for starters, props to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mrs. Thatcher.