Have You Ever Been Betrayed?

Hal glanced around the table, hoping that one of his long-time colleagues would speak up on his behalf.  No one, except Charlie White, met his eyes.  Not Keith, his golfing buddy who had lauded his every move – until Charlie’s arrival.  Not Patricia, a single parent who had asked Hal to be godfather to her adopted son.  Not Larry, a friend going back to high-school whom Hal had rescued from a dead-end job to become a partner in Western.

Hal’s chest tightened.  He was on the wrong end of a power struggle, and not one of his friends was stepping into the fray.  No one was willing to take on Charlie White.  He sat back down, wondering what – if anything – he could do to salvage the meeting.  “What’s going on here,” he asked. . .

– from The Hero’s Choice, by Roger K. Allen

Have you ever been blind-sided?  Ever been betrayed by people you trusted?  Maybe a friend, or even a family member, took you down, broke your heart with a few words or a single action that revealed layers upon layers of disloyalty.

“I didn’t know!” you cry.  “I didn’t see this coming at all!”

“Oh, but you should have,” your mind taunts back.  “The signs were all there, and you were just too blind to see.”

And you see it now – the clues to this coming treachery.  The muttered word, the sideways glance, the quiet phone calls.  How could you have missed it?  The facts were right there in front of your face!

To move forward in our personal development, we have to learn the difference between facts and perceptions — facts as colored by our feelings and beliefs.  The funny (in the sense of peculiar) thing is that we tend to give more weight to our perceptions than the uncolored facts.

The charm, beauty and wonder of life lie not in the facts, but in our feelings about the facts.  When you look into the face of your newborn infant, you don’t exclaim, “Excellent!  A carbon-based, biped life-form that falls within the normal  range on length, weight, and number of digits.”

Instead, you . . . well, you probably cry.

That same human quality, though, can be our downfall if we don’t learn to distinguish fact from perception.  In my book, The Hero’s Choice, Hal’s perception of his partners was filtered through his belief that he was the boy wonder, that everyone admired him for taking a little bit of nothing and turning it into a $60 million company.  There was a time when that perception had matched the reality, but that time had passed without his noticing.  As a result, he walked into that fateful meeting completely unprepared.

Later in his journey of personal development, Hal was lucky enough to have a friend, Donald, who challenged his perception of the facts.   Hal “. . . was astonished to realize he’d been reacting automatically and just assumed his point of view was the truth about the situation.”

Are you making the same mistake?  Almost certainly – we all do in one arena or another.    Maybe you work under the assumption that your grandchildren think your knock-knock jokes are funny, or that your neighbor secretly dislikes your dog.    But if you’re struggling with your life, struggling to break out of mediocrity or unhappiness, it’s time to take a good long look at your perceptions.

  • Ask questions:  “You know, honey, you’ve mentioned a couple of times that your sister’s husband treats her like a princess.  Are you feeling like I’m taking you for granted?”
  • Open your eyes to clues.  “Okay.  The neighbor slammed his door shut when I waved this morning.  We found our party invitation crumpled up in the yard.  And someone in the neighborhood reported us to the city for collecting rainwater in an uncovered barrel.  Maybe we’re having a problem here.”
  • Listen.  If a co-worker has made four jokes – this morning – about your personal phone calls, there might be more to her message than her desire to become a stand-up comedian.

Maybe you remember that old show from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, Star Trek:  The Next Generation. One of the characters from that show was an android named Data who was unable to experience emotions.  He was constantly baffled and intrigued by the human experience.  For example, in one episode, he kissed another character named Jenna.  “What were you just thinking?” Jenna asked him.

“In that particular moment, I was reconfiguring the warp field parameters, analyzing the collected works of Charles Dickens, calculating the maximum pressure I could safely apply to your lips, considering a new food supplement for Spot . . .”

“Well,” the disgruntled Jenna answered.  “I’m glad I was in there somewhere.”

The equation for Living Big is this:

Reality (what is) + Responsibility (my willingness to choose) = Results (what I get).

If you’re having trouble turning this math into the personal development you dream of, it’s time to get a little help.

Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation, leadership, and teams. His tools and methods have helped hundreds of businesses and tens of thousands of people transform the ways they work and live. To learn more, visit www.theheroschoice.com.


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