It was still hours until daylight when the airport shuttle picked me up at my hotel. The driver apologized for being late and assured me that he wouldn’t speed since he’d been a policeman for eighteen years and had enough of fast cars. We drove to an apartment complex that looked like a charming village to fetch the next passenger. He was chatty, too, and introduced himself as Rueben. I commented that his neighborhood looked nice.
Then I had an insight into what really happens when we allow our lives to be lived from a center of negativity…
“Oh,” he scoffed, “it’s like living in prison.” He gave us a long list of his complaints including the fact that the management had no tolerance for bounced checks. He told us he’d always lived in houses in California and this was his first apartment experience. “What brought you to Dallas?” I innocently asked.
“A mistake,” he snapped back. I decided he was a professional malcontent and ceased listening.
The Atmosphere Changes
At the next stop, a younger man bounced into the van and plunked down beside me. “Hi,” he said, extending his hand. “I’m Grant.” When I asked him what brought him to Dallas he told us he was starting a new Internet business and had come for a meeting and training. Grant lived in Maui where he’d relocated from Washington. “What brought you to Maui?” I asked. (Okay, it hadn’t worked with Rueben, but I really wanted to know.)
Grant said he’d gone there on vacation, fell in love with the place, had gone home and liquidated his business in Washington and then set up a new one in Hawaii. Rueben then told us that he’d lived in Hawaii for a time himself, “Before they ruined it,” he pointed out.
By this time, I was far more interested in hearing what the cheerful Grant had to say. “So you’re an entrepreneur,” I said. “Yup,” he replied. “I’ve had employees since I was 23. But I really want to get this new business running and I’ll be a one-person enterprise. No employees is my goal.”
“Ah, a man after my own heart,” I said. “I have a one-person business too.” At this point, Rueben joined the conversation again telling us how lazy people are and how hard it is to get decent employees. Rueben wasn’t about to be left out of this conversation since he, too, owned his own business. I couldn’t imagine being locked up with him for an entire day, but was polite enough not to point out that the problem might not be with the people he hired—who all seemed to quit rather quickly.
Who Would You Rather Be?
On the flight home, I pondered the Ruebens of this world. Do they not notice, I wondered, that their critical behavior is influencing the outcomes they receive? Then I had an insight into what really happens when we allow our lives to be lived from a center of negativity. Many psychological and spiritual systems suggest that we adopt a position of non-attachment in order to see things more clearly, but such a position is unavailable to anyone who is bogged down in negative thought. I’m certain that Rueben is convinced that the way he sees things is the way things are. On the other hand, Grant is open, excited and receptive, exploring as he goes. Care to predict whose life will be filled with success?
Besides being a self-employment advocate and writer, Barbara J. Winter also conducts seminars on creative self-employment throughout the US and elsewhere. She enjoys interrogating every self-employed person she encounters on her travels.