parents, educators and entrepreneurs must all learn to walk the thin line

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…

That’s who I feel like at times.

For those of you who know me, you probably know me as someone who is caring yet stubborn, serious yet goofy, caring yet aloof, strong yet a pushover.

I’m all of those things and more.

I guess I look at life as someone who doesn’t believe you have to be one or the other but instead adopting to each situation differently.

Life would be so easy if we could just say, “This always works without fail” and set our life accordingly, but then where would the fun be.

One of the best things of life is things NOT going according to plan.

Just look at my own life.

I mean, I was born to a very middle class family in a small town in England. I had parents that loved me dearly and though we moved three times before I turned seven due to my Dad’s work, I couldn’t have cared less. Sure, saying goodbye to surroundings we knew and had gotten used to was tough, but I didn’t know any better. I just assumed that’s the way things were.

Then I was told I was moving to the Philippines, which to me was just another move down the street. I mean, I was seven. At a time when the Internet didn’t exist.

At the time no one knew where that was. Not my parents, not their friends, no one. I mean I might as well have told people I was moving to the moon.

Fast forward 30 years and I find myself writing this in Osaka, Japan of all places.

Somewhere I had no interest in till I entered college.

My travels took me all over the world, but my best adventures were always in Asia…some defy all logic and there are still times when people think I’m making up things up. To me they were life. To many they seemed life fairytales.

So if I were to try and explain what all my life experiences have taught me it would be this: that there is no one right way of doing things.

Too many of us are taught in school that there is a right and a wrong answer.

But not in life.

There are so many ways to solve the problems we face in life, whether at home or at the office.

Now granted, some ways are MORE effective than others, but as the saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

For some reason in the past year alone, I have sat and listened to many women tell me their sob stories of lost love.

No two cases were alike and yet each ended in disaster.

Each man had his own shortcomings; immaturity, stupidity, arrogance, selfishness and the list went on.

But algebra doesn’t come in handy in dealing with the “real” problems of life. Nor does history, English, science and all that good stuff we learn at school.

When it comes to matters of the heart it is all pretty much trial and error.

Sitting across the table listening to these women spill their guts, I sat and thought about what advice I could give them and in the end it wasn’t so much about the person they were with, or their situation but rather who they were and how I could best get through to them.

I remember my mentor, Jim Rohn, once saying that every leader must develop these skills:

  • To be strong, but not rude.
  • To be kind, but not weak.
  • To be bold, but not a bully.
  • To be humble, but not timid.
  • To be thoughtful, but not lazy.
  • To be proud, but not arrogant.

In each case there is a thin line where if you’re too much of one (good) thing, you suddenly lose your effectiveness.

So I took into account just where each woman was in her own understanding of life and offered advice she could accept. For some I could be sterner, for some I handled them with kids’ gloves. In many ways I was applying the one-minute manager’s concept to a real life situation.

Today I must walk that thin line with my own son, my clients and staff each and every day. It’s like I have three different caps; the educator, the parent and the entrepreneur.

I have been known to offend people from time to time, and I do overreact with my son at times, but in every case I make every effort for them to understand WHY I am doing it.

I’m not someone who likes to shout. I actually hate having to take the time to prove a point.

What I want people to understand is one simple thing: I care.

That’s it. I care. A lot, in fact. Too much at times.

I care about my friends’ lives, I care about my clients’ lives. I care about my son’s life.

I want to do everything I can in my power to help them.

Now they might not always want that help, and there are times when I realize people don’t want to listen to what it is I have to say but that doesn’t mean I won’t try.

There was a time when I wouldn’t give up. I’m older now and have just decided to follow the advice of “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

Instead of trying to make people students, I just look for people who are looking for teachers. Talk about making my life a whole lot easier.

Maybe I’m getting wiser in my old age (lol) because I have less stress, achieve much more than I ever did in my youth and live a great life.

But I’m not done.

I still have to achieve my goal of becoming a millionaire.

And when I do, I’ll know it was all thanks to me walking that thin line.

Adrian Shepherd

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