Perhaps you have a heard about this young shoe salesman in the first half of the 20th century who was sent to Africa. He must have landed in a place outside the city because he wrote a very discouraged letter to his boss asking to bring him back home. He said in the letter, “It’s impossible to work here; nobody wears shoes.”The young shoe salesman was sent back home but his place was taken by another who couldn’t get the shoes to come fast enough as he wrote to the company saying, “Send me more; everybody here NEEDS shoes!”
Some of us look at difficult situations as impossibilities, but others look at the same situations as opportunities. The situation is the same; the difference is in us and in how we look at it.
What we have to do sometimes is change the perspective, the angle from which we look at the situation. We can complain of the dishes or thank God that we had something to eat. We can complain of our colleagues or appreciate that we have a job. We can complain about our work and shores or thank God every morning that have something to do which must be done whether we like it or not, because being forced to work and forced to do our best, breeds in us temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and contentment, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know.
I heard it said, “If you don’t like the conversation, change the narrative!” But our lives are what they are. Sometimes we can change them but more often than not we can’t, or at least not without ignoring major ethical concerns. One thing is possible though, while we may not be able to change the narrative of our lives but we can certainly change the conversation about it.
I remember the story of a little boy who was swimming one day in a lake when suddenly he suffered some type of physical difficulty and could swim no farther. The boy struggled for his life. He had gone under twice, when he felt the strong arm of a man lifting him. The man had seen the little boy's desperate plight and had swum out to save him. The man took the boy safely to shore and, after making certain that everything was well, turned to leave. The little boy said, "Thank you, sir, for saving my life." The man replied, "You're welcome, son. See to it that you are worth saving."
Whoever we are, we all had a mother, a father, or someone who took care of us during our most vulnerable time of childhood. It may seem natural for them to do so, but each person’s sacrifice that helped us survive one of the most vulnerable period of our life equates to saving our life.
Even the the course of our adult lives may have not gone so smoothly. Though disease or accidents, we may have come so near to death that we felt its chill on our skin but someone, be it kin or stranger, may have been there to save us.
Thus we ought to ask ourselves, “Was I worth saving?”; “Is my life a testament to those who took care of me, those who sacrificed in order to keep me going?” Thus to serve, help, and rescue may be our reasonable service in paying it forward.
By the way, the boy in the story above has never forgotten those challenging words by a man whom he did not even know. Neither should we forget those who care for us in the most vulnerable seasons of our lives and daily ask ourselves, “Were we worth saving?”
The difference between a received or rejected advice or idea seems to be in the wording of its presentation. That is why promoters are paid a lot of money. They learn how to present things in a way that it makes it desirable to others. Using lighting and psychology in presentations skills, store owners learn how to set things on a shelf in an attracting way. The food industry has developed a scientific recognition of smells that will make people come to their restaurants. When it comes to business, it does feel like an eerie form of manipulation, but the principle remains. Even God uses it. Encouraging us to healthy, moral, and ethical living He tells us that His commands will keep us spiritually, and sometime physically alive, while we may spiritually, and sometimes physically die if we choose to disobey them. (Deu 30:19)
A good leader has to learn how to present his ideas so that his crew feels that they are part of a great program. On the other hand, a crew member needs to learn how to present his objections without hitting at the ego of his commander. A lot of it is done through semantics and a humble attitude.
In the movie Anna and the King, Jody Foster plays an English teacher who had come to teach the numerous children of the King of Siam (now Thailand). One day she is approached by one of the queen‘s wives. “Please, we need to tell the king that he should not go to war. He will listen to you!”. “I will tell him!” responds the teacher. The wife then says, “Oh no; not like that. You must tell him in a way that he thinks it is his own idea!”
Here is another story to illustrate the point.
Once a king dreamed that all his teeth had fallen out. Immediately he sent for one of his soothsayers to interpret the meaning of the vision. With a sad countenance & mournful voice, the soothsayer told the monarch that the dream meant that all his relatives would die & that he would be left alone. This angered the king & he drove the servant from his presence.
Another was called & the king told him of the dream. At this, the wise man smiled, & replied, "Rejoice, O King; the dream means that you will live yet many years. In fact you will outlive all your relatives." This pleased the king a great deal, & in his joy he gave the interpreter a rich reward. The two men had said, in different ways, the same thing.
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