Taking The Good From Leaving Chatham Ontario

My life over the last few months has been tremendously different. I’d have to say since I quit my last real job at Chatham in January 2006 things began to take a turn that makes a lot of things possible. Below are 6 important lessons I have taken out of the experience over the last 18 months:

1) Sometimes you need to follow advice, particularly if the giver never tells you what to do.

Des told me to “get the heck out of Chatham” around 2:30 am boxing day. We had been drinking and he came right out and told me to do it. Des doesn’t tell me what to do. He suggests alternative ways of looking at things and supports me when I make silly choices, but he NEVER tells me what to do. Except this one time, so I listened.

A few months ago Tony made a comment to me that I was like a venues fly trap when it came to dating because I would grab hold of whoever was around me instead of taking the time to look for someone who I was more compatible with. It was one of those comments that cut pretty deep because it was true and because it meant that I was either lazy and didn’t want to take the time to find a suitable partner or that I didn’t believe that I deserved the happiness that true partnership affords us. He was right about me, only so far as it concerned my past because I had taken a couple of years off of dating because I had noticed the same thing. His was a warning comment not to go back to my old ways. It is advice that I don’t think I’ll need to take again, but when a friend who is usually silent tells you what to do, just make sure you listen.

2) There are consequences to things but they are not what you think they will be.

I had wanted to leave Chatham for a few months before I actually gave my notice that I was stepping down because I was pretty unhappy and felt that I wasn’t going to be able to do the job I was hired to do. I had wanted to leave right after Suzanne moved to BC about three weeks after I took the job but stuck it out because I felt I owed it to the person I was when I made the decision to take the job. I tried as hard as I could for 6 months until I realized that I wasn’t going to be successful and Des told me to leave.

There was no fallout worth mentioning. Okay, I’ll never get the chance to manage another GoodLife Fitness club and I don’t get to see a lot of people I met while I lived in Chatham, but the world didn’t stop spinning and no one hated me for leaving – my friends there understood that I had to go because I wasn’t happy. After a couple of days back in Milton, I felt fantastic because I was back to living the life I liked.

3) I am a reflector and am almost incapable of spontaneous displays of a mood.

I’m generally happy, but if someone around me is miserable I will be come miserable almost immediately – I socially reference to a fault. It makes me very engaging if you are engaging, very bitter if you are bitter and one of my clients if you believe that I know what I’m talking about.

Des pointed this out to me the day before my 33rd birthday. As soon as he did, I saw what he was talking about and realized that I had always been that way. A few days later, I stopped hanging around people who tend to put off a negative vibe and I noticed that my level of happiness improved dramatically. Then I cleaned house and stopped spending time doing things that made me unhappy or created negative feelings within me.

This quality is a mixed blessing. It allows me to be very engaging with others and it helps me connect to people in a way that many cannot. But it can also see me feeling very poorly about a lot of stuff and, in many ways, I’m kind of lost. When I’m with someone who is the same way, my general level of happiness tends to come out and shape the interaction as positive, the same thing happens when I’m with someone who is happy or when I’m alone. But when I’m with a dark force (a black hole as I tend to call them) things do downhill very quickly. Des telling me that I am a reflector was a huge step forward in my self awareness and it liberated me from these black holes because I was finally able to see them for what they were to me.

4) What you are looking for is an understanding and not a thing that exists anywhere other than in your own head.

When I quit my PT job, one of my clients Kim gave me a card saying “… I hope you find what you are looking for on your travels and when you don’t, I hope you realize that it has been within you all along.”

She was right. I found a lot of things during my trip to the east coast but what I was looking for was not one of them. There were moments when I almost stumbled upon it – I took a wrong turn down a trail in Fundy National park and had to hike with my bike for about 2 hours down and up some valley – it was the hardest I have ever had to work and there were times when I thought I’d have to put the bike down so I could crawl out just to save my life but I got through it without finding what I was looking for. I already knew I was strong and had a poor sense of direction.

I found what I was looking for about 5 months later when I got sick and thought I was going to spend the rest of my life relying on kidney dialysis. I’m still not sure what I found but on a conscious level I’m acting like my life is ending soon and I’m making the most out of each moment. I think that was what Kim was getting at when she gave me the card. When I asked her want she meant she said that I’d know when I found it. I’ve always feared that I was going to die one day, but now I realize that I am going to so today I must live because it’s all going to end eventually.

5) I am going to be horrible at most things the first time I do them.

I did the RPM training the first weekend of February 2007 and I almost didn’t go back for the second day. I still think the only reason why I did go back was because I was car pooling with Rachel. I got rather sick after the first day – I over did it and was physically exhausted. I got sick a couple of times on the way home from Waterloo. I had the worst head ache I have ever had that Saturday evening so I didn’t get to practice. However, I got through it. I wasn’t very good at instructing the tracks I had been assigned as homework, but I had an intensity that Rick and Carole (the national trainers) felt could make me a good instructor once I learned how to do it. They were right. Many of my participants like my classes because it’s clear that I’m working really hard and have a passion for it.

The same thing is true for blogging, learning power lifting exercises and learning how to play guitar – until I know how to do it, I’m just trying to do it and I’m not very good at it. Everything takes practice but if you do it enough times, you will get better at it and eventually you will become it (an instructor, blogger, power lifter, whatever). The key thing is to accept that you’re going to be dreadful the first few times and that this is something that you share with almost everyone else on the planet.

6) People know more than they give themselves credit for but may not listen to themselves because they do not believe that they have a right to be great or happy.

It serves an evolutionary function to feel this way. Smug people tend to be alienating and we regard their arrogance as a negative thing because it is dangerous – listening to them in our evolutionary past would more likely lead to our death than ignoring them given that they don’t know what they are talking about.

People who know themselves are confident and NOT smug or arrogant. They are aware of how the world is and exist within it in a calm and peaceful way. They are attempting to shape their own opinion of the world through learning and not trying to shape others opinion of them.

It’s important to keep this in mind when considering your own place in the world because there is nothing wrong with being confident IF you have a clear understanding of what is going on. If it is based on reality, it isn’t smug or arrogant and you SHOULD listen to yourself. Only a fool would continue to make a mistake after they have learned that it is a mistake. Unfortunately, many people keep doing the same thing over and over again in spite of knowing how it will work out.