I receive this daily email from Insights of the Day. Four days a week is a powerful motivational quote and then every Friday it is an inspiring or thought provoking story. I really enjoyed this one, so much so that I thought I would share it with all of you. Enjoy!!
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The Woman Behind the Counter
The other day I was in the Phoenix Airport on my way to a meeting in Denver. Unsure of how long it would take to get the car parked, get the luggage checked, get through the security line, and get to our gate, we (my husband Michael and I) ended up at the airport early. Once we parked our belongings at the gate, I did what I always do when I'm early to the airport; I headed toward the News Stand for the sole purpose of staring at the tabloid magazine covers. Yes, I know, it's a nasty habit, but before you cast your stones, I should tell you I only allow myself to read the COVERS of the magazines. JUST the covers. And even in those few moments I can feel my brain cells rotting and my dislike for humanity mounting.
However, on this particular trip to the News Stand I witnessed something much more fascinating, and disturbing, than any tabloid could offer.
In this particular News Stand there was a friendly looking gentleman. He had a pleasant face th at was graced with a cheerful smile. He and I were hovering in the same area; I was looking at the magazines, he was looking at the Snickers bars. Though, "looking" wouldn't be the right word -- "agonizing over" would be a better way of putting it. You see, this friendly-seeming man was about 200 pounds from healthy. As we stood silently by each other, I could hear him as he struggled to breathe, and watch him shift uncomfortably from foot to foot as he worked his way down the candy display.
I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he picked up a regular sized Snickers with his right hand and a KING sized Snickers with his left. He looked at his two options, back and forth, back and forth. He rolled them around in his hands, crinkled their wrappers, contemplating his decision. After at least a minute, he reached to put the regular sized one back ... a shame, I thought. He was so close.
But then, like a flash of lightening from above, at the very last moment , he THREW the KING sized Snickers back. It landed atop the gum with a deafening THUD. The man turned and looked at me with regular Snickers in his hand. Gripped it tightly, shrugged, and smiled.
For a moment, I saw a glimpse of pride on his face; the kind of pride that comes from taking control of your life. Granted, it wasn't the BEST decision, but it WAS a step in the right direction and it was clear he was pleased with himself. I smiled back and nodded; a silent congratulations for a job well done.
He took his regular sized Snickers strutted to the register where a 50ish woman waited. She was friendly in an abrasive sort of way, and as I moved to look at the cover of Men's Health I heard her say to the man (who was still in the glow of his recent victory):
Sure you don't want the KING sized Snickers? Looks awful good..."
The man who had just made a good decision, froze. He stared at the woman behind the counter. In that moment, it was as if t he Phoenix Airport stopped.... As he stared at the abrasive woman behind the counter, I stared at him. The woman reached for the KING sized and waved it in front of his face. "Don't do it. Don't do it," I willed him. But in the next moment, he nodded, took the KING sized Snickers, paid, and slowly walked away.
I wanted to say something, but it wasn't my place. As he walked past, he didn't look my way, instead he looked to the ground and to the KING sized decision he held in his hand.
Now, it would be easy to blame the woman behind the counter for the demise of our Snicker loving friend. She didn't HAVE to offer him the KING size when he seemed to be perfectly content. However, it is not her fault; she was only doing her job (I swear they get paid on commission -- every time I try to buy a magazi... I mean, a pack of gum... they always ask if I would like water or a snack. It can't JUST be because they're really concerned for my hydration or hunger). No, the res ponsibility lies solely in the man who ultimately made the choice.
We relate to this man. Whether you struggle with your weight, or you struggle to make good financial decisions. Maybe you make poor decisions, of any size, in your personal relationships. Whatever your vice may be (and there may be many), we have all been here before; on the brink of a breakthrough, only to fall short with no one to blame but ourselves. Whether you've been there once or been there 100 times, there is an important lesson to learn here; one that may not be the most obvious.
Who you are now does not determine who you will be.
I'll say it again. Who you are now does not determine who you will be.
Sounds nice, right? Easy lesson, nice lesson, hopeful lesson. The catch is this: you have to MAKE it so. The difference between who you are NOW and who you will BE happens because of choice. It doesn't have to be a heroic choice, it can be small/consistent choices made everyda y in the right direction, that make the difference. But they MUST be made and can only be made by you.
How do you do this?
First: start seeing yourself NOW as the person you will BE. If you're broke, start seeing yourself as un-broke. If you're alone, see yourself wrapped in the warmth of a healthy relationship. If you're heavier than you would like to be, see yourself thin.
Second: It is not enough to just SEE yourself there, you must start behaving in a way that mirrors the behaviors of the kind of person you will become. Un-broke people make sound decisions when it comes to finances -- do that now. Healthy people find joy in salads and low-fat dressing -- you should too.
Third: Stay focused. There is a good chance that others will continue to see you as you are now, and that's ok. It's not their fault. They may not be aware that you have made a decision to change; not aware that you are making small consistent decisions toward the person you wa nt to become. They may not SEE those small decisions or REALIZE what they are adding up to. Stay focused on YOU. On YOUR vision for yourself. And don't be afraid to verbalize your desires to those around you so they can aid in your transformation.
This is where I believe our friend at the candy counter went astray:
Perhaps he was seeing himself not as who he IS, but who he could BE -- well, healthy, happy...
I KNOW he was making a small decision in the right direction...
But when he got to the counter, the abrasive woman saw him as he WAS: a man who "must" love KING sizes. And instead of staying focused, instead of standing as a warrior for his future-self, he crumbled with the words "I will always be this" ringing in his defeated ears.
We all relate to this story. We have all been there. I just urge you to not go there again. Fight for you future self, and beware the woman behind the counter.
When all was said and done, I walked out of the News Stand empty-handed and heavy hearted. I took my seat at Gate C27 and waited for our plane to arrive.
(Post Note: Michael ended up sitting next to this man on the plane. When I told Michael this story, looong after the flight, he said, "That makes it worse ... he was such a nice guy.")
Kindra Hall is a storyteller with 18 years of experience. She shares her stories on stage, in coaching sessions, and on her blog: www.kindrahalltellsall.com. She works with organizations and individuals to discover, craft, and deliver their stories in order to more effectively communicate their mission and values. She has performed on the stage of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN at the Exchange Place.
(copyright 2009 KindraHallTellsAll)
Heather Sparrow, RNCP