We all make mistakes. The lessons learned from these mistakes are crucial for our overall development. This idea is especially true for 20-somethings as we transition from teenagers and college students into full-blown, mortgage bearing, proposal-planning adults. Sometimes, though, the things we do on a daily basis that seem normal and beneficial are hurting us in ways that we do not see clearly, like a silent killer within our own bodies.
If it goes undetected for too long, it could cause serious harm. After years of trial and error, and an especially unique situation over the last few months, I recently realized that I was doing it wrong. This is what I did, and plan to do, to correct it.
A basic building block of maturity is the utilization of your strengths as much as the correction of your weaknesses. I’m a nice guy. It is one of the traits that I’ve decided is worth showcasing and have been for years. But there is a trend that I’ve uncovered about how people construe their first impressions, and it has forced me to consider a few changes. Nice can be considered weak and submissive, which is the opposite of attractive. Women are drawn to "assh*les" because their initial impressions demonstrate dominance and strength. This idea is equally fascinating as it is frustrating.
My first impression needs work. I’ll never stop being nice because it’s who I am and works wonders during relationships, but perhaps it doesn’t necessarily need to be such a big part of the opening act. I’ve been placed in the friend zone too many times by women not to think my pattern of behavior needs to change in order to see different (better) results…but how?
There is a big difference between what you know you are capable of versus what you actually show to the world. Potential energy is meant to become kinetic. A first impression is like a really short interview, and there’s evidence to suggest that women know if they’ll continue a conversation within the first minute of meeting a man. How’s that for pressure?
The point is, guys, that like any good coach, it’s important to recognize when it’s necessary to swallow your pride and make adjustments to the game plan. My first step is to put confidence before kindness while offering some mystery instead of putting all of my cards on the table and hoping they'll play a hand.
I’m blessed with a large group of hometown friends. They are an important part of the foundation that I have built my life upon. There were times during the early post-grad era when many of them were clearly on the path to settling down with a significant other, during which I started to feel resentment towards them. I also lived with a guy who did not quite gel with my lifestyle and expectations of a full-time roommate.
Anger, passive aggression and lashing out are obvious representations of an internal struggle. Before allowing this behavior to rear its ugly head, take a look at what’s going on inside and make those adjustments. Life is too short and our 20s are too important to not bring out your best every single day. When I realized this, it became easier to improve myself instead of focusing on the “faults” of others.
Sometimes we need our peers to show us our mistakes, whether subtly or not. A final humbling example of how I was doing it wrong came in the work place when a coworker unknowingly demonstrated a quality that I immediately recognized as one of my own. I won’t bore you with the details, but it opened a door to reflect on other qualities that might be more harmful than good.
Continuous professional improvement is just as important as what happens socially or within family confines. If you’re spending 30% of your week in one place with a certain group of people, it is in your best interest to be aware of personal deficiencies. It’s a habit that will ultimately leak into other parts of your life.
As human beings, we must adapt or die. I choose life, a good life, and so it has become vital that I address issues and insufficiencies head on. It will rarely be easy but that’s part of the point. I’m confident that this “one brick at a time” approach will be more than worth it in the long run. I’ll continue to recognize those things I want and will be able to put together a plan to attain each and every one of them. I’ll stop doing it wrong and create the habits of a winner.