A very long time ago, when I was a boy, I spoke with my father about mean people and I attempted to discover why people are mean. The advice that he proffered was a psychological landmark for me at least for a while.
My father sagely suggested to me that unless someone lifted my wallet that I should not care too much about what other people think, say or do.
As a child, as hard as I tried to adopt my father’s advice, most of the time I failed. Mean words and deeds still hurt. In my work with young people over the years, I can see that words still hurt just as they did many years ago.
As an adult, I have found my father’s advice was sound though I needed to gain some life experience before I could understand his philosophy. Though he did not explain it in such words, I think he was telling me that I had a choice not to care so much what other people said or did.
Now fast forward about twenty years and I am working as a salesman for an electronics company. I was in a district with a Salesman that put my father’s philosophy to the ultimate test.
Mark was 30 years old and the best salesman in the district. Mark was willing to do anything to win; he lured established accounts away from other salesman by spreading gossip or making false promises to make a sale. Tom, the District Manger, claimed Mark as his protégé and frequently referred to Mark as his best salesman. When Mark, predictably, got a big promotion, he was the youngest salesman to ever get his own district to manage. Mark was not stupid, rather he was self centered, mean and, in my judgment, unhappy. In spite of the general dislike of Mark, he was given a going away party by the district sales team.
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