When I was a teen, still in High School, I struggled to find acceptance in the eyes of my classmates. I had shifted from a Christian Grade School (K-8th) to high school and for me, the change was a shock. I wasn't equipped to handle much of what happened to me in those days and being labeled "Nerd" caused to me to severe contact with a majority of my classmates.
As a result, I got involved with the kinds of people I was always taught to keep at a distance. Drug users, law breakers and gang members were numbered among my friends. Most people might assume my close proximity to them would mean I got involved in such things.
While it is true that I was once caught shoplifting, this was the extent of my criminal nature and was LONG before I ever met the young men I am describing to you now.
I spent time with them after school and often times on my lunch hour. Still they did nothing to expose me to the lives they lived. I was well aware of their lifestyle. They talked about drugs, using the slang of the times and I would look at them clueless of specifics--but knowing all to well.
Why did I spend so much time with them? Well, after years of considering this very question I can only say that it comes down to respect. While most people considered them degenerates and screw ups, I had a bond with them. They acknowledged my existence and allowed me to be who I am, no expectations attached. Something I wasn't afforded by a lot of people.
Truth be told, I have often wondered if it was my gentle heart and openness which endeared them to me. I say this because they often protected me from the things they were involved in. Now, I'm not suggesting that I was ever in danger. No, but they used slang, never put me in harms way and never EVER tried to get involved in any kind of wrong doing.
These young men fought other young people, sometimes to devestating affect.
They smoked cigarettes (and other things).
They had no respect for authority and no love for anyone else, especially the onese who could fog a mirror.
Yet they kept me out of it all.
My intent in recounting this story is simply say ...
Whatever the behavior of a person might be, it is not who they are. They are much, much more than that. Therefore we can accept the person even though we might not like their behavior.
In all areas of life, business included, we will come across all manner of people. Some of them we will want to label "Jerk" but it will serve you well to recognize this as his behavior, not the person. Not truly.