“The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.” — Abraham Maslow
So, I have this thing. It’s a somewhat annoying habit of mine. For some reason I find myself compelled to tell people uncomfortable truths. Especially when they’re based on false beliefs.
As I talk on the phone with an older gentleman about his business and marketing, when something he says triggers that instinct.
“I don’t get why it has to be so damn complex. These days you’ve got to constantly keep yourself updated. It’s one damn thing today and another damn thing tomorrow. I don’t think I have the ability to do it.”
Here I try to interrupt him to tell him that I believe he can. I feel like he’s using his age as an excuse, but he steamrolls me and continues.
“There’s a lot of… It’s hard you know? I don’t think I could understand it even if I wanted to.”
Thankfully his steamrolling gives me time to reflect on what he’s actually saying: “I don’t think I could understand it even if I wanted to.”
I realize that despite the fact that his focus is on his ability to grasp new concepts and ideas, this isn’t the main issue. It’s that he doesn’t want to.
The operating words are: “…even if I wanted to.”
I turn my focus to what possibilities are open for him, and if there are people that could take care of those aspects of it while he focuses on other tasks.
After we hung up I started questioning myself. Was it right to let it slide? Should I have pushed back against his fixed mindset and forced him to see that the problem wasn’t his intellectual capacity, but his willingness to put in the work required?
He’s clearly not a lazy man, but that excuse doesn’t sit well with me. For some reason, perhaps the fact that he’s getting on, I just let him keep that notion.
I don’t know. Sometimes maybe it’s better to let people have their stories.
What would you have done?
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