Some of my blogs are inspired by recent events like what’s on the news, or by something I had been dwelling on for days or even weeks prior before getting the nudge I needed (and a spare 45 minutes) to sit down and write about it.
This post is inspired by – but not about – a dream. This dream was intense because almost everyone I know or knew was in it. People from various circles of friends, and relatives from different families, and people from different times (or decades) of my life, all hodge-podged into a single dream. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, but it felt like going through 20 years of photo albums in one go.
I woke up, mind on fire. I’ve met so many people. So many interesting people. So many different people. They didn’t all have to be from different continents, from exotic places, speaking different languages. What makes them interesting and stand out in my mind is the vast difference in personalities a lot of them had. There were so many archetypes and personality types from opposite ends of the spectrum that my Rolodex of friends, family and acquaintances could fill the pages of an award winning TV series. Something important that I realized is that they were all there for a reason. Or at least, they all served a valuable purpose, whether I keep in touch with them today or not.
The people in your life all have a purpose. They each fall into one of two camps: They are there to either teach you what to do, or they are there to teach you what not to do.
Some people are going to be messy, dirty, or unsanitary. Their purpose is to teach you to be clean, pick up after yourself, and to take good care of yourself and your surroundings. Take care of your personal hygiene. Exercise and take good care of your body. Take care of your environment, whether it’s your kitchen, bedroom, or car. Take care of the environment by not littering, not throwing your cigarette ashes out the window, and making as small a footprint as possible.
Punctual People and Late People
Some people are going to be punctual, and their purpose is to teach you to do the same. Punctuality means more than showing up on time. It means RSVPing to let people know you’ll be attending at all, and doing it in a timely manner as well. Admittedly this is an area I can improve in, and have been actively improving in.
Other people are going to be habitually late, or slow to act. Their purpose is to instill patience in you. Many events are time sensitive. Many are not. Know how to tell the difference, and only rile yourself up when absolutely necessary. Showing up 10 minutes late to a wedding is worth an earful. Showing up an hour late to a football party is not.
People with No Drive
You’ll undoubtedly cross paths with your fair share of lazy, un-driven people. How this laziness manifests can take many forms. It can be in the form of a serial couch surfer who spends hour after hour, day after day, month after month, watching way too much TV, not progressing in areas of hobbies and interest, employment, or self-improvement. This is one of the single most important types of people you can meet. They stand as a cautionary tale of what not to do. Every time you sit down to watch TV, no matter how well deserved it may be after pulling 3 hours of overtime, you’ll second guess whether or not it’s worth it.
This group of do-nothings serves a very valuable second purpose in your life, and that is to teach you to help others. It’s not your job to fix people, but every once in a while everyone can use a little help or word of encouragement. Some praise, suggestions, or motivational counsel can go a long way. Learn to reach out to others who may be in need of help. If you can help them, great. If not, then at least you know you tried.
I know a thing or two about stressful people. Actually, without knowing you, I can bet you my left leg that I know more about stressful people than you ever will. These panicking, high blood pressure inducing individuals will be one of your greatest life challenges. Everyone stresses over big things like cancer, IRS audits, colonoscopies, going for 4th down, and being kidnapped by ISIS terrorists.
Stressful people stress over things like where to eat breakfast, a flat tire, a $5 late fee, burnt toast, spilled milk, someone else’s marital problems, the color of the sky, and how far you’ve driven since they last called you 15 minutes ago.
Learning how to deal with stressful people is one of the single most invaluable skills you can master. I consider myself a double black belt in this martial art, meaning I out rank Batman.
Seriously though, stress is a killer. Stress can ruin weddings, funerals, parties, social outings, careers, friendships, and marriages. If you let stress be the prevailing emotion, you will surely be miserable. Despite how crappy or dire the situation, taking it in stride will ultimately determine your happiness.
You can’t always avoid these people like the plague, especially when they are family. But you can learn how to not get sucked into their tornado of stress, and make yourself an anchor of calm amidst their stressful storm.
Whoever first uttered the phrase “The suit doesn’t make the man. The man makes the suit.” Was a true genius. You can learn a lot from snobs. Some snobs, as snobby as they are, actually know a thing or two about their particular snobecialty, be it watches, or wine, or audio equipment. And that’s all fine and dandy. But the most important thing you can learn about snobs is this: Don’t be one.
You can drive yourself crazy heeding the insult laden, condescending advice of snobs. You’re drinking the wrong wine. You’re driving the wrong car. You’re watching the wrong movies, and you’re wearing the wrong shoes.
A $1,500 pair of Oxfords says nothing good about you. It doesn’t say that you have class. It doesn’t say you have good style. It doesn’t say you support quality. It doesn’t even say you are wealthy, or make good money. All it says is you spent an exorbitant amount of money on something you could have paid considerably less for.
Don’t spend your life trying to live up to the expectations of snobs. Remember, the suit doesn’t man the man. The man makes the suit.
You’re going to come across many different types of people in your life. Some will come and go, others will stick around for a while, and others will be with you ‘til the very end. Some people should be emulated, others should be a cautionary tale, and others should be avoided like the plague entirely.
Regardless of which category they fall into and how long they are in your lives, the people in your life all serve a valuable purpose. Learn from them.