Home » good

Tag: good

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

The past week has been an interesting one, filled with both joy and sorrow.  As is want to happen the new week arrived in all its magnificence and serendipitously, I found these Four Stories that gave me pause to reflect. These are old familiar stories and you have probably read them before with slightly different people and contexts however the lessons remain the same.

Change your thinking
Change your Thinking

Story #1:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are freshwater turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

its all about Perspective
Perspective

Story #2:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story #3:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Changing Seasons

Story #4:  Being and Breathing

One warm evening many years ago…

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”

A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance.

All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.

Just being with her and breathing with her.

The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Your turn…

How do you think differently today, than you once did?  What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking?  Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

Bad Career Story

Is your Career Story Good or BAD?

There’s an easy way to check. The number one sign your career story is lacking is if it’s missing key elements — especially, the happy ending.

Now, I’m going to show you what happens when your career story is bad. Not sure if yours is good?

Here’s an example…

Meet Mike: “Poor Me, I Got Fired by an Evil Boss”

I recently spoke a young man named Mike. He had been at a company for 10 years. In the last six months, a new manager took over. Mike says within weeks he knew he was “pegged” as someone the new manager wanted to make an example of. Mike said he tried everything to make the new manager happy, but that each time he tried, it only seemed to make her more angry. He said all his colleagues saw it too and felt bad for him, but nobody would help him fight back. Finally, he was called into a disciplinary meeting and was subsequently put onto a  performance review. Within a week, he had made a mistake, and was let go. He was out of a job with no reference from a place he had worked at for a decade.

“How do I explain leaving there to potential employers? I have no chance. She ruined me,” was Mike’s comment to me. I said, “That’s true if you are going to keep telling the story in that way.”

“How else can I tell it?” Mike replied, “That’s what happened.

I seen the opportunity as a teaching moment and my response was, “No, that’s ONLY your perspective of what happened, and telling it that way makes you sound suspect and your dismissal justified. You aren’t telling a good story. What is worse, you’re telling the wrong story to the wrong audience.”

 

Even if the facts in Mike’s story are true, the way he was telling it wasn’t going to serve him well in his job search. Stories are a creative process. There are many different ways to tell the same career story. I really wanted  Mike to think about how the audience who’d be hearing his story would react to it.

 

Here’s what’s wrong with Mike’s story:

  1. Mike mentions he was made a target. He immediately positions himself as the only person in a large organization being singled out. Most hiring managers will assume there was a good reason for that.
  2. He claims he tried everything to make the manager happy, but nothing worked. This sounds very dramatic and most hiring managers will assume Mike didn’t know what to do to really improve his performace and up his deliverables game. Hence, the reason for the increase in the managers’ frustration with him.
  3. Mike had been at the company 10 years and now a new boss had come in and shaken things up. Most employers will assume the change in management was needed and that Mike was eliminated because he hadn’t been pulling his weight for quite some time, and most likely, the previous management hadn’t done anything about it.
  4. Lastly, and by far the most important, Mike blames his entire situation on one person – The NEW BOSS. Not taking an ounce responsibility for his part in the story. This makes him appear to lack any sense of accountability, which will make hiring managers run in the other direction.

 

Solution: Present a More Objective Account of Events

When I explained this to Mike he was shocked, and frankly, really defensive. I then shared with him what I thought he should say to a prospective employer to consider him for a job. He got the message. It went something like this:

“My last job was a powerful experience. I had 10 wonderful productive years there. I was promoted three times in that period and learned valuable lessons. It was a good organisation to work for and I made friends with many colleagues who still work there.

 

Six months ago however there was a change in  leadership and while that is always good for the organisation it became very clear to me that the new manager and I different views on how the department should operate and despite my tenure there I was not able to get onto the same page. I tried to improve our working relationship as one does however despite my efforts I seemed to only make things worse. In hindsight, I think there are definitely things I could have done differently. However, it finally came to a point that the new manager felt my performance didn’t match what she needed and I felt I could not compromise my position any further and we agreed to part ways.”

And then, I made sure Mike added this (the happy ending):

The truth is leaving an organization I spent ten years in was a really tough ask. I learnt an invaluable lesson from that process itself and I learned and developed incredible skills while I was there which I would really like to apply  someplace new. That’s why I’m excited about your organization. I can see myself being really successful here.”

 

By telling a more balanced story without all the emotional undertones of blame you are able to present a more credible and more optimistic perspective. Most importantly, when he ended it with a positive spin, he proved he knew how to create his own “happy ending” to his career story.

 

What Happened to Mike?

Mike practiced this for a month. He needed time to process his emotions and really allow himself to come to terms with the situation so he could deliver a more objective career story. He had to find a way to say this on his own terms. Eventually, he was ready to answer the dreaded, “Why did you leave your last job question?” in an upcoming interview. Not surprisingly, when the question arose in the phone screen, Mike was actually eager to answer it. He wanted to share his new story. It worked. Mike got through the screening interview and went on to the second interview and was eventually offered the job which he accepted. That was truly a happy ending for both of us.

How would you describe your Career Story?

 

Want to learn how you Develop your Ideal Career and tell a better career story?