Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Do You Mean? What Do I Mean?

As a child progressing into young adulthood, someone would occasionally tell me to grow up. At those ages, the meaning seemed simple enough, get taller and wider and as you know, we can only get so tall and so wide.

Maybe it had to do with my attire or behavior. Behavior gained significance because I was involved in an activity that I thought funny when the directive came. I eventually came to the conclusion, around 30 years of age, the phrase meant to act responsibly, consider the surroundings, consequences to the victim, or damage to my career.

After joining the Army I was stationed in Massachusetts. One day of my first Winter, I asked a local why it was not snowing. His reply was, It's too cold. I thought some information would help soooo, I said, it snows at the North Pole. Well, so much for that. Finally, the  explanation was the air was too dry to snow. Well why couldn't they have said that. In their manner of local speaking, they did.

My wife and I were spending a week with friends in Vermont during the Winter. He had asked me if our car was prepped for the Winter and I casually replied yes. Well, it wasn't and neither were we. 40 degrees below zero is serious, dangerous cold for anyone not prepared. At the end of the week, my friend had to use an outside heater to warm the engine, so it would start and move. 

Our daughter had a friend spending the weekend at our house. I was reading and the young lady shared an idea she had. I half-heartedly responded and she countered with, "Mr. Ware, you don't care what I have to say do you?" Embarrassed that what I was thinking was expressed; I quickly apologized. In a few seconds, I offended our young friend, my daughter and myself.

During my 30+ years as an instructor and trainer, I was taught I am responsible and accountable for my verbiage. As husband, father and now grandfather I feel more responsible and accountable for the influence of my words.

When a person thanks you for advice you gave them years ago, they confirm the value of every opportunity you seized for clarity. When a person wants to engage me in a conversation, I stop, think and acknowledge him/her.

You may be wondering if I still make mistakes. Yes. Ask friends, family and co-workers about my colossal blunders written in their minds and hearts. Thank God for patient and forgiving people.

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