As I look back on the last six months I am amazed at the opportunities that have come my way. For the most part, my mindset has been to simply walk through open doors exploring whatever I find. I have spent much of the last six months saying yes to new opportunities. But as I look back there is one opportunity that I said no to and I have learned more from that one decision than from anything that I have said yes to.
I was asked to speak at an event. On paper, I should have said yes without a second thought. I love public speaking, it was a large event and it was my target audience. The event host is someone I respect and someone who has had a significant influence in my life. But something didn’t feel right about this opportunity and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was feeling.
Here is what I learned about myself; I want to work with the people who are in the trenches with me. I want to support the people who have been a part of my journey, the people who take my late night phone calls and offer words of encouragement even when I don’t know I need it. The people who believe in me even when I question myself, the ones who show up in my life, and listen deeply, and ask, “how can I help?” The people who remind me of who I am and who I want to become. The people who point out that indeed I can take it farther. The people who support me with their thoughts, words, and actions. The people who jump in and get dirty long before things get crazy. And the truth is, for the last six months this guy has been nowhere to be found and that hurts. His support, his endorsement, his encouragement, a few nods on social media would mean the world to me, but it has been nothing but silence from him and silence speaks volumes. I guess I hadn’t noticed the silence because those in the trenches with me have been so loud and full of rowdy encouragement.
Each time I reread his invitation I felt small and forgotten. But those in the trenches with me make me feel larger than life and that is where I want to focus my energy. After much thought, I realized I needed to say no to this opportunity. My decision was not rooted in anger or resentment. I simply knew that saying no to that opportunity would give me more time with the people in the trenches. Those are my people and that’s where I want to be.
But here is the thing about life in the trenches … it’s not my trench, I don’t own it. It’s a great group of people who are willing to support each other, to get dirty and dig a little deeper as we try to use our influence to make the world a better place. There are no walls that divide us. No lines that define when you are helping me and when I am helping you, it’s just people helping people for the common good of humanity. We are moving mountains and we are doing it together. I am there for you, you are there for me, and I’ll say yes to opportunities to support these people any chance I get. Time with them is time well spent.
The people in the trenches,
they are the difference makers and that is where I want to be.
Say yes to the people in the trenches …