My dearest friend Dr. Preston Rich gets a kick out of my various "drJ" sayings. I'm a speaker who paints pictures with my imagery. There are psychical comedians, and I would classify myself as a physical speaker. I want to make you remember the entertainment value I brought to the stage and the connection to real life learning. Plus, there's nothing like good imagery to tell a story or illuminate a point. Dr. Rich's all-time favorite is this one:
If you paint me into a corner, don’t be shocked when I walk on the wet paint!
It's typical that my experiences have birthed some of the most vivid and direct phrases that I use today – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been perplexed by our society that makes it somehow “okay” to not speak up for yourself and others. This of course is nothing new. I mean we had slavery for God’s sake for years. We built into our laws that African Americans were not actual human beings. I would have loved to know back then how many people thought that was wrong, but were just too afraid to say anything. But I digress. This is not a piece about slavery, the civil war, or anything related to ethnicity. I’m talking about the Human Race today.
The worst thing one can do is to so-called paint me into a corner; seemingly taking away my choices. I have two reactions when this type of attempt is made, 1-You must think I’m crazy, and 2-You must be crazy to think I will believe I’m out of options. Hence me walking on the wet paint. Just take in that visual for a moment. Someone stares you down painting you into the corner daring you to move. They believe you cannot move because of their paint. You guessed it, that's not your paint job - it's theirs. Should it bother you to walk on their paint? Not in my book. Remember...
The attempts of those trying to bully their way into an outcome serve to leave you with the perception that you don’t have options. They try to make the world small (or maybe it really is to them) so that you don’t see everything around you. How clever! Place mental blinders on you and watch you succumb to small thinking. That strategy works on people who have never seen the world. It works on people who do not understand who they are. Ask yourself if it will work on you?
Some resolutions will require solutions that haven’t been created yet
And to that I say, keep walking! Yes you may be at a point where you feel like your own options are limited. You may feel hopeless. That’s your sign that you may need to create a new solution to potentially an old problem. You're never helpless because you're always capable of helping yourself. It means it's time for you to kick start creating and walking! It’s okay to let people know that their boundaries cannot be applied to you just because they feel like it. My gosh we wouldn’t have accomplished much in this world if we allowed others’ boundaries to dictate our mobility; we’d still be in that corner waiting on that wet paint to dry.
And that’s okay with me. The solution may not always be free of blemish. Your goal is to work toward a solution. Your best defense against being painted into the corner is accepting that you will get some paint on your feet. You may not gain or make new friends. That’s okay. Do you get the theme here? It’s about you being okay with your actions – worrying more about staying true to yourself and your boundaries rather than concerning yourself with someone who may have negative motives or selfish interests (or both).
While in my undergraduate program at Texas A&M University I was a student activist. Choosing that path came at a price. One of the biggest tolls I had to pay was the amount of hate that came my direction as I tried to illuminate the racial divide and conflicts that were plaguing the student population. I had some very bold foes. I had to be okay with their decisions to “hate” me because I was okay with my decision to do what I thought was right. Get it. I didn’t worry about their wet paint. I spoke at forums and walked out with other’s wet paint on the bottom of my feet – that was okay. I was good with it. I was rooted in my beliefs and the creative solutions I executed to help solve an old problem.
There is a before and after to this. Before you dedicate yourself to being okay walking on someone’s “wet paint” you must dedicate yourself to your own beliefs. I do believe that dedication won’t be firmly cemented into your own world until it is challenged – until it is tested. Remember, “big, bad, and bold” comes at a price. Determine what you’re willing to sacrifice or put on your front line as you begin “walking on someone else’s paint”
This ideal and in my case my own personal standard is essential as you navigate through the murky waters of business and personal relationships. You’ve got to stop allowing life to happen to you and be proactive and forward-thinking to participate in life. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to pick out the color of that paint!
Food for thought ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about knowing yourself and what your unwavering set of beliefs are. Once you do that, you must protect them at all costs. No one should be able to influence how you feel about your personal boundaries or your options in life. Two of the phrases I hate the most are, “It’s just the way it is” and “What else can you do”. If you catch yourself saying either of those, reevaluate yourself and what you want out of life because you’ve basically just expressed helplessness and laziness. Both adjectives are bad for business. If someone around you says those phrases, take the time to train them up. Show them better. Teach them how to “walk on the wet paint”.