Before you jump to conclusions, hear me out. It’s not what you may be thinking. Sometimes little moments from our youth, seemingly random, but the way they strike us, they can really stick. This was one of those moments.
One of my mom’s closest friends was Sharon, who lived across the street. Her son Derek was one of my childhood friends growing up, and she was like another mother to me. She and her family took me on trips with them a lot. She was kind, smart, and an executive at a bank.
One day mom took me to visit Sharon at her office in downtown Worcester, MA. I lived in the suburbs and barely ever went to Boston. So, to me, Worcester was the city. It was my first time in a big office building. The marble walls and décor were impressive to my young self. Recalling this event as an adult, I’m cloudy on some of the details, but I think we had just come from seeing the dentist.
My mom tried to convince me of the importance of flossing and knew that Sharon would back her up. So, my mom asked her about her habits, and she cheerfully replied, “I don’t floss.” You should have seen my mom’s face. I beamed, thinking I just got some backup that I don’t need to floss. I watched my mom try to hold back her shock and anger. When did you see a moment like that? Priceless.
Then Sharon explained further, “Though I don’t floss, I brush my teeth carefully and thoroughly. I do each tooth one at a time. I spend at least 15 minutes a day cleaning them. I brush my teeth better than anyone else.” Oh? My beaming smile faded quickly. Crap! I still have to floss or create an amazing, careful brushing habit. Augh!
Why did that strike me and stick with me? She said something no one else had said, and she changed my perspective. She taught me that you don’t have to do everything the same way. But we do have to create a habit that goes deeper than the way most people do things. I had no idea that moment back then would help set the stage for my growth later on. What are some of those unexpected lessons from your early years? These profound, memorable moments can hurt us or serve us. It is how you and I process them that counts.
When I look back now, I can see the power of what she was saying. If Sharon had stopped at, “I don’t floss.” I may have been happier at that moment, but that moment probably would have been long forgotten. Who knows how the conversation between mom and Sharon would have gone when I wasn’t around. I felt sorry for Sharon. They may not remember because it was so long ago, but I do. It served me on my path to changing my own identity.
What is the Underdog Principle?
- What lessons from your early years do you still remember? How can you apply that principle to your journey today?
- Pick one thing to focus on and do it better than anyone else. Not easy, but you will accelerate your momentum and learning when you focus. When you focus on one thing and add creativity to that, boom! That is what makes you stand out.
- If you are in business, you can’t market on every platform but own one platform.
What do you take from this?