Maybe you are the problem …
Once upon a time, a bushy gray-bearded man shuffled toward farmer’s market. Sadly, the spring air felt right but it smelled wrong. Pausing, he shrugged and then trudged forward.
Happening upon a purple lilac in full bloom… “This sweet lilac will overcome this painful stink.” It reeked! The deeper he inhaled the more disgusting it smelled. Dejected, he continued his task.
A whistling stranger passed the confused gray-beard. “How anyone can whistle in this sour air is beyond me?”
Further along, a fellow townsman waved, “Good day.”
Frustrated he growled, “Don’t you smell that!”
The townsman joyfully called back, “Yes, isn’t the spring air lovely!”
Produce in hand, the frustrated, confused, dreary, gray-beard turned homeward. Dejected, he thought, “The whole world stinks.”
Dusk filled his sour home. Discouraged, the bushy gray-beard prepared for bed, hoping for escape in his sleep.
Splashing water in his face, rancid bits of cottage cheese fell from under his mustache. They’d clung there since breakfast.
Straightening himself, inhaling deeply, spring arrived.
He laughed, “I guess I was the source of my own sour.”
If you are the problem, you are the solution.
This post is a revision of a previous post.
Fabulous (and true) story, Dan. I definitely struggle with this personally. It also brings to mind a time when I was part of a congregation in transition. We did not have a fellowship hall, but every time there was a communal food event, we had a process of moving the pews/chairs “up” and the dining tables/chairs out into that space. As we debated/discussed building a new fellowship hall, one of the parishioners always said, “we’re getting too old to be moving tables and chairs.” Perhaps some options beyond that “stink” were – we have so many young people here we can invite to help us out and/or we can use our frustration with the current arrangement to be creative about a fundraising plan to build a hall.
Epilogue – the hall did get built. The congregation itself ended up being part of some unrest that assailed the entire denomination and being a very changed group. But they did survive, albeit a changed, revised group.
Your comment that focuses on a Christian congregation is helpful and challenging. Many congregations have the reputation of being stinkers. Perhaps this parable applies to many of us church goers. OUCH!
Thanks for all you do.
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read her bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
I remember riding in an elevator with something that reeked. The “offender” was a young man. This was housing for the elderly and disabled. After his exit, the women tsked, but said, “He can’t smell it because it’s him.”
Now that I’m disabled, my hygiene suffers while I wait to get some assistance bathing. I worry that I may offend, and not only physically. I’m in such severe pain that my thoughts aren’t always organized, or I skip vital info for any one esp. strangers to understand. Just like this response: It’s an odd occurrence that I even remember this.
I would like to tell you how much good your tweets and posts have been good for me. I’ve been recovering for over 6 years from a TBI from which many doubted I would recover. Blogging, meeting people challenge you to think, even YouTube music, have all assisted in my recovery, which is not complete. You are now proposing a higher standard for me. I compare myself to myself, but I look to others for inspiration. My mind has given birth to many new, more ambitious projects that, given I will recover further from other physical issues, is more in the realm of being my authentic self, which feels GREAT! I have a handful of people to thank, and that includes you. I am very grateful for all that you do. I could go on, but nursing a fractured hip is making me a little, so I just wanted to make sure that you knew I don’t take your influence and challenges lightly. Thank you, and may you always swim in clean, sweet tides, Linda
It was really inspiring to read your post, and we pray and hope that you recover completely.
Dan, thanks for the light-hearted, heavy-in-morals story. We often identify the external symptoms faster and more critically than we do the internal causes of the problems around us. Keep up the great posts.
You encourage me and I’m sure others.
I would never wish discomfort or pain on another. However the context of your own pain adds weight to your words. Words none of us can take lightly.
You have my best wishes and prayers.
Don’t think you don’t matter, you do,
I agree that If you are the problem, you are the solution”. The way people see that world, they assume same for everyone. But that is not true. It is your judgement that you try to see other in your shoe. And that is the great problem. We want others to see the things putting in our position whereas we do not want see ourselves being in others position. How funny it is ? What prevents up to see the world from others perspective ? I strongly believe that is Arrogance, Ignorance and Ego. They are our self create defense mechanism that make us feel better and knowledgeable than others.
The way to overcome false belief is to acceptance. Acceptance of other opinions, understanding others points and chanllenging our pre conceived belief. This will expand our perspective and provide us feelings of more connected, wise and matured.
You show us the way out of being stinkers. Thank you.
I’m more convinced today than ever that a fundamental leadership shift is from us to them. Accepting who “they” are and what “they” believe is essential to leading vs. manipulating.
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
Dear Dan nice post for self-reflection on a Sunday morning. Reading Ajay’s comment reminded me of a young boy’s story some 43 years ago. This 13 year old was first in his eighth grade class, Valedictorian at graduation, winner of the gold general excellence medal, and president of the chess club. This young man felt pretty good about himself, cocky, spunky, and at times somewhat arrogant. Every summer he would travel with his family down to Miami to visit family and friends. One night returning to the hotel after visiting he walked into the hotel lobby which was desolate with no one there except the Janitor with mop and bucket cleaning the floor. He saw at the end of the counter a chessboard all set up and asked “who owns this chess set?” The janitor looked over and said it was his. The boy told his family to go up to the room and that he would follow very soon. He smiled and ringing his hands said to the Janitor “want to play a game?” The janitor looked up and said “sure but do you know chess notation because I have to keep mopping and you can just shout out moves and move my pieces with my response?” Sure do said the boy, great I will let you have white to start but the old man insisted the boy take white which he did still wringing his hands together. 20 minutes the young man was flushed, sweating and almost tearful. How could this old janitor have beaten him 4 times and so quickly. The old man seeing his despair plopped the mop down and walked over to the boy gently placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder and said: “Young man it is going to be all right. You should never judge people by their appearance, you should never assume you are the best because there will always be someone who is better, always someone that can teach you and others that can learn. don’t let your ego keep you from exploring and seeking out a world full of people that can both teach you and at times learn from you. Don’t let your ego limit your horizon.” The young man listened intently and went up to bed “digesting” all he had heard. The little old man had saved the boy’s life and from that day forward that young man always left his ego on his pillow before venturing out into the world. Would it not be great if we all could be saved at such a tender young age and how much better our lives would be. This reminds me of something I recently read: “What we give to ourselves dies with us, what we give to others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Dear Al Diaz,
Thank you for aknowledging my comment. Your shared experience is inspiring and encouraging. I agree that what we give to others is what remains. your statement ” never judge the person with appearance” is a powerful statement. It is so true, but arrgoance perhaps plays role to form our opinion about others.
Arrogance is a dangerous demon that keeps up off the learning and growth. So, We should always try to keep it off from our lives.
Great story Al, thanks!
Perhaps a new adage…let sleeping egos lie….
A great story. Too often have I heard, “There but for the grace of God go I.” If we only knew!
I think that the scariest thing in the world is to discover that you have been the source of your misery, problems or misfortunes. We always want to look outside for those reasons, meanwhile if we just a have introspection we might find the solution and answers we are looking are buried deep within us.
I’ll tell you it is uncomfortable when the truth lands at my own front door. OUCH
Just got to read this one!!!
Dan were you a scoutmaster?? Sounds like the stories I tell my scouts. If you do not mind I would like to read this to our scout leaders on Thursday and put in a shameless plug for leadershipfreak. Many of our leaders (men and women) could use your posts to inspire and challenge themselves as well as the youth they lead. Great stuff!!
I was just a Scout not a Scout Master. 😉
Thank you for being a people-lifter. I appreciate your support.
“What we give to ourselves dies with us, what we give to others and the world remains and is immortal.: Al, I love this quote, and will try to track down, or attribute it to your find, on a post on compassion. And I thank Dan, Murtaza and others for your compassion and support.
Scribadiva and others thank you for your comments. I have tracked down the quote which was written by Albert Pike, confederate attorney, writer, poet and freemason. Interestingly enough he is the only confederate soldier to have a statue st the Judiciary in Washinton DC. (according to Wikepedia). Doc, I like the “let the sleeping ego lie” and Arrogance being a demon gets no argument from me either AJAY. BTW true story………………. 🙂 cheers Al
Good one! So interesting, I just posted an article on my page yesterday morning cautioning leaders that if they think, “That’s not me!”, they should reevaluate because they may indeed be the problem. Refreshing article, Dan.