My mother had “wisdom” that she shared with me over and over and over again.
“You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.”
I hated every single one of the eleven words in that phrase that came out of my mother’s mouth.
Maybe there was a reason she kept using that trite cliche.
For as long as I can remember, I had deep confidence in myself.
You may be different from me.
Much of the time, I think I have things all figured out.
I think I’m always right.
I think my perspective is the right perspective.
I’m not afraid to speak my mind when I see what I perceive as “wrong.”
During my college years, I ran a janitorial business, A-1 Cleaning.
It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about business.
I loved having my own business.
Running a business fundamentally changed the way I viewed my capabilities.
When I finished my first college degree, I decided to get a real “job.”
But I was ruined forever from being a hired hand.
Since I’d drunk from the fountain of business ownership, it was impossible for me to be fulfilled in a cubicle job.
I knew I had much more potential.
I felt like I was a caged rat in the job environment.
Perspective colors so much of life.
I was well paid with both of the employers I had.
As an employee, I had to fit in the perfect little box they built for me.
For me, that life was unacceptable.
I became frustrated with my “lot in life,” and it began to spill over to my job performance.
I think the thing that frustrated me most was I wanted to throw everything I had into my work.
If I was willing to throw everything into my work, I wanted to be rewarded and recognized for what I was contributing.
After some time at my job, I realized what I desired most was not going to appear on my time table.
I began to find faults with my supervisors.
I became toxic.
I blatantly complained about my supervisors with my co-workers.
In a way, I began to blame them for where I was.
I could see clearly the problems that were wrong with my company.
I knew immediately how things could be fixed.
I had all the answers.
Or at least I thought I had all the answers.
I had all the answers based on the knowledge and perspective I had.
Then I got a rude awakening.
I was in the Army Reserves and went off to my two-week training.
When I returned, one of my co-workers shared with me that the company had issued bonuses to all the employees.
“Go to your mailbox and get your bonus,” he told me.
I went to my mailbox, and it was empty.
That year I was the only employee that did not receive a bonus.
It was a clear signal to me.
I was no longer wanted at the company.
At least that’s how I felt at the time.
I was offended and pissed off.
It was no skin off my teeth.
I didn’t like the job.
On my lunch breaks, I began to put my feelers out to find a new job.
It only took six weeks, and I landed a new job.
I was heading off to greener pastures.
The only problem was that I was still the same person.
I was still toxic.
I still had the same attitude.
Even though I was going on to a new job, I was still going on to a new job.
I was a caged rat in my old job, and I transitioned to being a caged rat in my new job.
I did good for a while.
I’ve always been ambitious.
I’ve always had the drive to excel in everything I do.
The “good times” at my new job lasted for about six months.
I was working offsite with another co-worker, and she began to complain about our supervisor.
I remember saying to her, “I’m not going to complain about this. No good can come from me complaining about it.”
But I got sucked in.
Then the toxicity that had been building up from me being a caged rat boiled over.
I began to complain about my supervisor again.
What a fool I was.
All I could see was what was wrong.
I was getting paid to do a job.
Why didn’t I recognize that more?
Because I was a caged rat.
It was impossible for me to be happy in a cage.
It was about 3:30 on a Monday afternoon.
I got an email from one of the partners at the company I was working for.
“Damon, will you please come to my office?”
I knew instantly what the email meant.
“Great, I’m being fired,” was my immediate reaction.
“Damon, we no longer need your services,” the partner said to me.
I packed up my belongings and got in my car and left the life of a caged rat behind me forever.
In the process of being a caged rat, I effectively killed my career.
I was toxic, and now I had no way to support my wife and two baby girls.
I went down to the unemployment office and started to receive a weekly unemployment check.
I was burnt out and entirely spent.
I needed a break to figure out my life and how I was going to salvage the ashes of my career.
I got my break.
Once I decompressed, I realized how it all fell apart.
It was all my fault.
I was responsible for everything that had happened.
I had no one to blame but myself.
I was the one that killed my career.
It was painful to swallow the bitter pill that I had done it all to myself.
Despite my best efforts and best intentions, I had sabotaged myself.
I came to the realization that I was responsible for everything that I had and was.
I had made decisions that led to my demise.
That was the most crucial epiphany I’ve had in my life.
There was beauty in the idea that I was 100% responsible for my life.
If I was the only one responsible for destroying my life, then there was hope.
If I messed it up, I could fix it.
I could change everything and get the life I wanted by changing what I did.