It’s dark, cold and approaching 8pm on Thursday night. My wife holds a weekly meeting at our house with a group of girls. I’m in our uninsulated back room, trying to make progress on what seems like a never ending construction project. It’s time to make a run to Home Depot for more supplies. I have a several sheets of plywood to return. The alley between my house is long, narrow and filled with snow. The surface of the snow is covered with a thick layer of ice formed by melting snow from the roofs of both houses. It’s a long slippery walk from my backyard to my truck in the street. I don’t have a driveway. As I carry the 4 x 8 sheets, I slip and stammer like an elephant on ice skates, bouncing off of both houses and struggling my way to the street, between parked cars and finally onto my truck utility rack. After several trips down the alley and a handful of slivers, the truck is loaded and I’m on my way.
Wow, that was harder than it should have been. I was exhausted. Fortunately I would have just enough time to return the plywood and buy what I need.
With my cart fully loaded, I made my way to the return desk.
“Do you have a receipt sir?”
“No, store credit is fine.”
“Can I see your driver’s license?”
I reached into my back pocket and found it empty. You have to be kidding me. I left my wallet at home! The store was scheduled to close in 5 minutes. “We can’t take your items without a license sir. We have to enter the number into our system.”
“What if I can get the number?”
“That will work.”
I called my wife. She knows more about the location of my personal items than anyone else. She didn’t pick up. She’s in the middle of her meeting. 3 minutes until closing. I call again, Facetime, text, call and finally she picks up. She gives me my license number, I hand it to the clerk.
“My manager just told me it’s against our policy, you have to have your picture ID.”
I call my wife again and have her send a picture of my liscense to me via text. I show the clerk. She calls her manager.
“Sorry sir, you have to have your physical license with you.”
“Can I talk to your manager?”
She calls her manager on the intercom. I wait another 5 minutes. The store is officially closed now.
The manager walks up and says, “It’s against our policy to return items without proper identification.”
I explain my situation and add that I spend several thousands of dollars at his store every year. He looks me in the eye, and says, “It’s definitely you.” He shakes my hand and looks me in the eye as if to ask, “Are you lying?” Finally he agrees to make an exception just this once. He reminded me that I need to bring my wallet next time. Gee thanks, what a great idea!
Relieved and frustrated at the same time, I leave the store without my needed materials. By the time I get home, it’s too late to make anymore progress. The night feels like a waste. I had high hopes of accomplishing something significant. Instead my night ended in disappointment.
The chorus of negative voices in my head begin:
“How could I be so stupid?” What a f$%#ing idiot!” “I can’t do anything right!” “Why can’t things just go my way for once?”
This is a classic story of what RESISTANCE looks like in my life. Resistance has visited me in every area of life. It threatens to steal my joy, thwart my efforts and end my progress.
What does this story remind you of in your life? I’m willing to bet you’ve had more than a few experiences which have ended in frustration and self deprecation. Maybe it involves a project at work, a conversation with your wife, an attempt at starting a business. How do you respond?
Why Is It the Key to My Success Again?
Resistance is a gift but only if we ask the following questions. “What can I learn from this? What should I do differently?” Resistance makes the not so urgent investment in personal growth, urgent and important. When you focus on what you can do better and what you can learn, you immediately add tools and experience leading to a better result next time. I can guarantee you, I won’t forget my wallet next time I go to Home Depot to return materials. I may even be compelled to plan better to avoid having to carry plywood down a narrow alley on an ice covered walkway.
Embrace resistance and recognize it as a tool for rapid growth. When you feel frustration building and destructive self-talk entering your head, take a deep breath and ask these two simple questions.
“What can I learn from this, and what should I do differently next time?”