As I type this blog entry, my mind is elsewhere. It’s on a man for whom I just wrote a farewell speech. He is whip-smart, classy and—my favorite trait of all—humble. Despite the fact that he has funneled millions of dollars into all the right hands to help change the world for the better, you’d never know it.
I love that.
I love people who are a Big Deal but who don’t think of themselves as such. I will be so sorry to end my working relationship with this man. It’s truly been a privilege to help him get his thoughts and ideas into the world in innovative, articulate ways.
Contrast this train of thought with something that happened earlier in my week. A former friend—one I was trying to help because her business is in dire trouble—came at me as if she was a Big Deal. Nasty, defensive, let-me-show-you-how-smart-I-am. Let’s be clear. She is not. She is a bit player—and a struggling one. When our paths crossed, I was at a time in my life when my own troubles (divorce, death of my parents, etc.) probably blinded me. Since then, so many red flags. So many people who have told me to avoid her. My own fault, really, that I gave her the benefit of the doubt despite the warning signs.
Because these are the types—filled with ego for lack of anything of substance—that tend to want the world to think they are a Big Deal. And in their wake, collateral damage is a sure thing. I’ve worked with more true Big Deals than you can shake a stick at–it’s just the nature of the business I’m in. And I can tell you, the real deals don’t cause collateral damage–they usually leave things better than they found them.
I had tired of the situation with this friend months ago, as I realized every social gathering at which I bumped into her, she was boozing beyond her limit. When she would introduce me to people, it was always prefaced with what they owned/made/worked at. You see, she rates the world on all of the above—status symbols. She was loud. Brassy. Not my style. I learned from being given some lucky opportunities young, CEOs and janitors have more in common than you think. Their basic humanity. She seemed to have lost hers.
Let’s contrast how each of these relationships ended. I got an angry text from her, near midnight, that ended with, “And this is the end of our communication.” I had to laugh. Oh honey. Are you still thinking about our rift? Because I was soundly sleeping. Our communication actually ended months ago—had you not noticed? You and I have been in different stratospheres. I don’t wish toxic people ill—but I also don’t wish to be around them. You’ve been swimming in your own swamp for a long time and I left you in it eons ago. You were just too self-absorbed to see it.
My relationship with the true Big Deal? Well, that is ending in, predictably, a far classier fashion. “Kristine, my apologies for my delayed reply on the phenomenal speech you’ve given me. You captured every sentiment I wanted to express, all the milestones, and you did it in your usual inimitable fashion. It’s me, but better. As I wander into the sunset, I am reassured that you are doing what you do. The world is the better for it. Someday, the powers that be will recognize your talents on a much larger scale. And I’ll be front row in the audience, humbly applauding. And by the way, more importantly, you restore my faith in the human race. Your honesty, wit, laughter and yes—even your challenges to my thinking—are things I am eternally grateful for. I’m the better for all of them.”
Bottom line—we can do great things and lift each other up. Or, we can view the world as a battlefield—one in which we cannot let anyone see who we really are—because inside, we feel so very small.
I am proud to be in the first camp. Proud to not fluff up my feathers and brag about what I do. I just do my thing. Sometimes, I score. Sometimes, I fall short of the mark. Overall, I think I accomplish more good than bad.
None of us are really a Big Deal. Even when we are. But you can be damn sure I now run, as fast as I can, from those who want me to think of themselves as such.
You see, I’ve seen the real thing. And it comes with humility emblazoned on its chest.