High school was very tough for me. I was the skinny, lanky kid who never quite fit in. I remember a guy, we’ll call him Mike (not his real name) who was constantly badgering me and always found ways to make me feel smaller than a thumbtack in front of others; especially the girls.
Upon graduating from high school I counted not seeing Mike ever again as one of my many blessings!
Fast forward 20 years later and I receive an invitation to go speak to the students at my old high school and share my ‘secrets of success’. By that time I had obtained a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, an MBA and was President of Sales and Marketing for a telecommunication company.
As I walked the hallways toward the auditorium my mind was flooded with memories both good and bad. I was so caught up in my reflection that I didn’t notice a man waving at me and calling out to me. He was wearing a green jumpsuit; I could tell he was the janitor. As he got closer he had a big grin on his face and said, “Do you remember me?” It took me a moment but then realized it was Mike! “How are you doing? I heard you’re the guest speaker!” he said excitedly. “I can’t wait to hear you speak!”
He then proceeds to tell me, without any prompting on my part, that he’s married, has 3 kids and he’s been working as a custodian at the school for several years. I say nothing as I’m still trying to process that this is bully Mike now being really nice to me. We talked a bit and he then escorted me into the auditorium.
As I begin to speak I noticed Mike standing off to the side hanging on my every word and a smile that I interpret as ‘beaming with pride’ as if to say, “I know that guy”. He went from a bully to my backer!
That day I learned a valuable lesson. Our minds are loaded with snapshots of people who we’ve frozen in time that no longer exist. Bully Mike had changed yet I still carried the old snapshots of him in my head all these years. I realized then that I needed to delete them from my mind.
People change and holding onto past personal grudges no longer made sense. Mike wasn’t the person he used to be and neither was I. I committed that day to leaving the past in the past.
p.s., When my new show 'Life or Debt' premieres on March 13th on SPIKE, I wonder if Mike will be watching :-)