Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing a thicker skin...

Okay, my story. 

This job I have now requires that I do a lot of technical work.  Some of the systems I work on I was unfamiliar with when I started.  As you can probably imagine it can be overwhelming at times and I get lost in a "not sure what to do next" problem.  On top of that, the people in charge of this project are really not very helpful.  To the point of being down right rude at times.   

So this job has been something of a challenge to me.  I still find myself being far to nice to people and letting them get under my skin when I don't realize I am letting them bother me.  I have done with relationships in the past and with past employers.  It is a bad habit.  We should not let other people's actions dictate how we feel or act.  Others can be jerks but to let them be that way and then get a response from us means they got what they wanted.  Their reward is...I want to make you mad to show my superiority, therefore, when you get mad I have proven I am better than you. 

Now this is not the case with everyone.  The reasons for doing it are mixed.  In one example, I know a guy who is being selfish and very spoiled.  I know that is mean but I only know he is cause I did the same thing to some degree many times in my life.  I didn't get my way and so I started acting hurt or sad or depressed.  Trying to make the person who did it feel bad for what they have not done for me.  It is a passive agressive manner in which to bully people.  As I have gotten older I see it for what it is.  I think most people do this in one form or another.   

The fact is, if you ask for something and you don't get it.  Move on or find out how else to make it happen.  With people, if they say no.  Time to find someone else that will say yes.  You cannot or should not MAKE people think your way when they do not want to.  You can offer your values and beliefs to people but it has to be their choice to take them up otherwise we waste time to keep pursuing.

Anyway, back to the story.  Lost in the work I didn't know well and having problems with the people who would not let me do my job and I felt very lost. 

My boss told me that he just did his job anyway and tries to have a thick skin about things.  Well I figure out that he doesn't have a thick skin about this stuff all the time but it gave me a great deal of insight into what I was and was not doing. 

I tied my ability to do my job, my happiness with my work and everything to people.  Well, if you have not noticed, people suck.  Not all of them all the time but even our loved ones will disappoint us from time to time.  Often that feeling is made worse by people we see as important.  So tying our happiness to other people is something that dooms us to failure.  People are too inconsistent.

Anyway, I realized something after this.  The bosses here do not want me here.  Personally or professionally cause I find problems.  They do not want people to find problems.  They want all the problems to go away.  Specifically, they want to pretend there are no problems.

Well they have given me enough crap that I want to find every problem I can before I leave.  I have even thought about making problems but that is dishonorable and I won't do that.  Anyway, it was a remarkable feeling of freedom to realize that I can do my job as best as I can with or without their help or permission.  In fact, I have been given instruction to do my job despite anything they say.  For that matter, I give my self permission to do it.  Within their rules but I will still find every problem on this project that I can.  And I will report them ALL.  Even if they are not mine to report. 

Because, THAT is my job and I am going to do it regardless of their opinions.   

So extending this to life.  THIS is my life.  Is it what I want from it?  Am I who I want to be?  (To quote a song).  If not fix it!  Starting now.  I still love my people and it occurs to me that I will even if they are being disappointing a ton more easily if I do not tie my love to their behavior.

My kids are a great example of that.  I always love them.  I get irritated by them sometimes but that doesn't change that I love them.  So I have already done this naturally to some extent.  Why not extend this to my entire life.

I love this quote.  Not sure if I totally agree but it is cool anyway.

"We are the defined by what we love and not by what loves us in return."  - unk.

Anyway, in summary.  It is not a matter of building up a thick skin to all the troubles in this world.  It is the realization that we should always find happiness in the things we love.  Without regard for the things that may or may not love us back.  That to me is pretty darned profound.  I have known this for a long time but now I get it at a much deeper level.  I am doing a better job of putting these thoughts to words. 

Okay, more about martial arts soon I promise.


  1. Some very great insights and some things that we could all take to heart. It is about time we all started taking some responsibility for ourselves, even as far as owning our own happiness instead of blaming things on everyone else all the time.


  2. Great article Nick, thanks.

    I also was amused that Google placed an ad about Olay skin care products on your "Growing a thicker skin..." post.

  3. Ha, that should be listed as at least a minor fail.