Author Archives: Cactus Joe
Mr. Shanley was one of my teachers in the 7th grade.
I am a tall person, and I was tall in the 7th grade.
Sometimes when I would sit in the front of the classroom, the shorter kids behind me in the back would complain that they could not see the board or the teacher or the screen because of my big lanky torso and head in the way.
They would demand that I move right or left to accommodate their ability to see the board, usually with insults or threats of violence.
Mr. Shanley would interrupt and tell the complainer that it was not ME who had to move right or left. It was THEM.
He would explain that if I moved right or left, I would just be blocking someone else’s view and one problem solved would create another, with no winners.
But if the complainer in the back of the room took destiny into his own hands and moved himself right or left, he could find the perfect spot from which to view the front of the room, and everyone would be happy.
That lesson always stuck with me.
I have always believed a person has to create his/her own reality and cannot let others control their destiny. It’s kind of a zen philosophy. If you expect others to change to accommodate your goals, you will probably fail and you will always be fighting with people. You also can’t accommodate everyone’s demands because you will never satisfy everyone.
On the other hand, if you change YOURSELF, you will succeed. You can only change yourself, but you can never change others. If you expect to succeed by changing others, you will only end up being the BOSS everyone hates. I had one of those, and such people are born losers…failures.
You also can’t let others determine what you will do. Only you can decide that for yourself. I was far from a good student in the 7th grade, but sometimes I would end up sitting in the front of the room because all the other seats were taken, or there was a front seat open next to the brainy, beautiful, and unobtainable Cindy…I was powerless to resist. That was just my luck. It certainly wasn’t my fault that the shorter kids chose to sit in the back, just because they didn’t want to be called on or were intimidated by Cindy. That wasn’t my concern.
I am reading Hugh McLeod’s “Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity”, and one of the author’s main ideas, reiterated in several of the “keys,” is to create your own reality and not to expect others to “discover” you and bring you artistic or professional success. You alone can create your destiny and reality, through hard work, long hours, and lots of creative thought about the vision you want to make real.
Sometimes you just have to change your seat.