First some back story. I have spent the past couple of month connecting with some amazing people all of which have something to offer this world in a positive way. I have created friendships that I know will last a long time and I have had great experiences and, more importantly, learned a few things. I have made some personal strides in my personality and have tried to do my best to become more a role model than I used to be. To me there is nothing more important than being able to spend time with people and have conversations offline, but rather face to face.
One of my bosses from years back once taught me "there is no emotion in email" The thing is that we read something online and we tend to put the emotion that we are feeling into it. Some people are just angry people so they will read whatever they want to read as a negative. This is true in conversation and relationships. How many times have we typed something, re read it and then looked at it again and added a :) at the end to soften the blow and prevent misinterpretation. Our world is manipulated by emoticons rather than taking the time to talk on the phone or in person.
I am constantly reminded that there are awesome people in my life. There are also a few complete jerks. I know, I had times where I was more of the latter rather than the former. The past six months have been a journey of development for me where I have been doing my best to rid myself of anger and negativity which, in turn, has made me reconsider my relationships with negative people and people who do not necessarily have my best interests in mind. Thing is that I like (liked) a number of them. It is difficult to endure negativity when you are looking to better yourself. It's difficult not to take it as a personal affront when one of your "friends" supports a competitor instead of you. It is also difficult to look at things in a clinical, objective way without the emotion associated with it. Before I make a decision about someone I ask myself "what do I like about this person"... sometimes the answer is "nothing" but in reality most people have something to offer. Once I find the attribute I enjoy in a relationship then I seek what is bothering me in the interaction. Measuring the pros and cons I make a choice. Sometimes that choice is to just agree to go our separate ways. Other times, especially when there is a professional need to interact, I do so in as professional way as I can but no longer let them influence me or my inner circle. In no way are they allowed back into my private life.
On to my point. In the partnerships that I have with people, those who choose to be partners benefit from me as much as I benefit from them. This is a true "win- win." These partnerships are far rarer than I would have ever imagined and before the introspection of the past six months I would have doubted their true existence. The industry that I am in seem wrought with people who believe the "other guy" is their competition. In this day and age the competition is the need to look at everything adversarial rather than cooperative. The competition is the absolute addiction we have to our phones and the internet. I know for a fact that I can give up my phone for a day or two, could you? I could name at least 10 examples of interactions that were adversarial that did not need to be. A lender doing what he could to destroy the business of the person borrowing money, the landlord who looks for ways to nickle and dime their tenants through fees and miscommunication, the dive shop owner who badmouths their competition instead of looking for ways to partner with them, the angry individual who thought the grass was greener but found it wasn't, blames the company he left... the list could go on and on.
Be done with it. In social media its easy. Block them, unfriend them, move on. Sure, they will trash you but you just won't have to follow it. There are people who read blogs like this one or in my case listen to my podcast to look for any reason to be critical. Don't be "that guy!" If this is your reason for reading something, the problem is you, not them.
It doesn't always have to be adversarial. It doesn't have to be us vs. them.
Yesterday a young man came into the dive shop who had worked for me about a year and a half ago. He had been going through some personal issues and had just decided not to show up again for work... before yesterday I didn't know what happened to him. He came in yesterday, a year and a half or so later, just to apologize. He also thanked me for giving him a shot and for showing him that his life was more than flipping burgers. He now had a house, a strong relationship, and a great sales job. He was one who changed, he (through influences I am sure) thought me his adversary while I was trying to make him better. The light clicked on and his world changed.
A quote I find awesome. "Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners." This is so true. Ask yourself where your focus lies.
Aspire to greatness, don't belittle it. Work towards improving others and your own world will grow.